On this date…11th January 1935

A highly complimentary review of Dylan’s first published book Eighteen Poems appeared in The Swansea Review section of the Swansea & West Wales Guardian newspaper.
This seems to be the first instance where the book was reviewed in a Welsh periodical.

The reviewer, “20th CENTURY” says of Dylan…

‘Modern poets fall into two categories, those who are the creatures of their age, and those who are it’s creators. In the latter group we find Auden, Spender and Dylan Thomas. It is a fault of both Auden and Spender, that having perfected their technique as poets, they strain themselves to become perfect media for propaganda. Dylan Thomas is too much the artist to allow politics to bemuse his muse. One knows instinctively his politics are correct, but they hover like a faint perfume above the lines of his poetry; they neither intrude or obtrude.’

He closes with…

‘Mr. Thomas is doing with poetry much the same as James Joyce did with prose. He is making a new language, not a Joyce did by making numerous languages to produce an illegitimate literary off-spring, but hammering new meaning into old worlds and phrases; crowning backs with the alchemy of his essentially poetic imagination.

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On this date…9th January 1935

The Listener of the Gossip of the Day column of the South Wales Evening Post talks of a conversation they have had with author Richard Hughes about young Swansea poet Dylan Thomas.

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On this date…9th January 1932

An article entitled The Poets of Swansea appeared in the Herald of Wales Swansea weekly newspaper. Author of the piece, 18 year old junior reporter Dylan Thomas examines the lives of the Swansea literati. The young man also writes poetry. He hopes to one day feature among this impressive list.

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On this date…7th January 1933

Whilst working as a junior reporter Dylan had an interesting article entitled ‘Genius and Madness Akin in World of Art’ published in the South Wales Evening Post.

In his piece he examines the lifestyles and character ‘kinks’ of many prominent figures in history and the present day. At the end of the article he poses the question ‘Who would be a genius after all?’

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On this date…5th January 1935

Dylan’s friend and mentor Bert Trick writes to the editor of South Wales Evening Post hailing the rising young poet whilst attacking the lack of discussion generated since the release of Dylan’s first book 18 Poems by what he calls the ‘intelligentsia of Swansea.’ Trick asks the question, ‘are these cultural circles so moribund that they cannot see a new star in the literary firmament?’

‘Sir,- One can be pardoned for imagining that the paragraphs concerning the poems of Dylan Thomas, which have appeared in your columns, would have evoked a spate of correspondence from the intelligentsia of Swansea.
Are these cultural circles so moribund that they cannot see a new star in the literary firmament? Are they so cloyed with picking-over the cold coalitions of the academic school that they have no appetite for the red-blood and meat of the moderns?
Or is it due to a distrust of local talent, the phenomenon that compels native artists to assume foreign names to win recognition for their talents?
The early reviews of Dylan Thomas’s volume of eighteen poems have been not only commendatory, but, to a degree, eulogistic. He is regarded in the higher literary circles as the outstanding poet of the last decade, and it is true to say, as was quoted in your paragraph, that he has already outstripped the Eliot-Pound-Auden school, having wrought a technique entirely individual, which is at the same time in direct line of descent from Blake, Webster and Beddoes.’

A. E Trick
69, Glanbrydan avenue
Swansea

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Dylan and the whiskered beast of Pwlldu.

At about this time in early January 1934 it is believed that Dylan wrote the following piece detailing a close encounter with a furry ‘beast’ at the beautiful cove of Pwlldu, Gower.

he recounted to Pamela Hansford Johnson…

“I was sitting in the porch of the Pwlldu Inn on a cold, sunny afternoon, eating an unnaturally large sandwich and sipping at a quart mug-both sandwich and mug were almost as large as me. In the midst of my meal I heard a loud stamping (that is the only honest word to describe it), and, looking up, saw a rat immediately in front of me, his eyes fixed on mine. A rat? This was a rat with a capital R, a vast iron-grey animal as big as a cat, with long, drooping whiskers and a tail like an old frayed whip. Normally I am frightened to death by rats, even by mice, and certainly by moths, but this monstrosity of a creature did not alarm me at all. He couldn’t move quickly anyway, he was much too fat. He merely stood there in front of me until I threw him a piece of cheese. He sniffed it, swallowed it, and stamped away. Again ‘stamped’ is the only word: he went away like a fat old soldier from a canteen.Thinking of him when he had gone, I came to the conclusion that he must be the Father of all Rats, the First Rat, the Rat Progenitive, the Rat Divine.”

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*The Inn that he refers to is likely to have been the ‘Beaufort Arms’ which is the building just right of centre in the photograph.*

 

 

 

On this date…1st January 1935

Dylan’s first book 18 Poems was mentioned in the ‘Gossip of the Day’ column in the South Wales Evening Post. 

 Mr. Dylan Thomas’s verse is now published and those who want to see what the most modern of poetry is like will be able to satisfy their curiosity in the eighteen poems given in the volume. Mr. Thomas is at the spearhead of the very latest movement. I committed a faux-pas the other day when, mistakingly I referred to him as the T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pounds and Auden school. “Eliot! Pounds! Auden!” the young man said in derision. “They are numbers in the poetical world.” – Poetry moves swiftly these days.


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An appalling affair! – An early critique of Dylan’s ‘New Verse’

Amongst the discarded cigarette packets, empty sweet wrappers and manuscripts underneath Dylan’s desk here at 5 Cwmdonkin Drive you will find a book that had upset Dylan in December 1934.

Published by Duckworth in late 1934, Aspects of Modern Poetry by Edith Sitwell was savagely critical of New Verse, a periodical ran by poet, novelist and critic Geoffrey Grigson. In her scathing review she used Dylan’s poem Our Eunoch Dreams, which had been published in New Verse in April 1934 as one of its bad examples. As an added insult she didn’t even mention the author of the piece by name!

She wrote…

‘An appalling affair! Metaphysics have not helped here. The idea is really of no importance, and the thick squelching, cloying, muddy substance of the “which,” “itch,” “shapes,” “starch,” “welshing rich” verse, and the equally, or almost equally hideous, “kicks,” “sack,” “trash,” “quick,” “cock,” “back,” “smack,” affair – these defeat criticism. In muddiness and incapacity, they leave T.E. Brown’s “God wot plot” arrangement at the starting post.’

Dylan wrote the following in a letter dated December 1934 to his friend and fellow writer and poet Glyn Jones

“So you’ve been reviewing Edith Sitwell’s latest piece of virgin dung, have you? Isn’t she a poisonous thing of a woman, lying, concealing, flipping, plagiarising, misquoting, and being as clever a crooked literary publicist as ever. I do hope you pointed out in your review the real points against the book (you did, I know, but I like being dogmatic) The majority of the book was cribbed from Herbert Read and Leavis, actually and criminally cribbed. She has misquoted Hopkins at least twenty times, reprinted many poems without the permission of the publisher or poet. Yes, that was my poem all right, reproduced without my name, misquoted at the end, and absurdly criticised. I duly sent my protest to Gerald Duckworth and he replied to the effect that so many protests of a similar sort had been received, that he could as yet do nothing about it. It is being hoped that he will have to withdraw the book.”

In less that a few months Dylan and Sitwell would change their respective tunes about one another. Fierce critic and fellow poet Edith Sitwell would become a patroness and champion of the young poet from Swansea…

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Published in: on 31 December, 2016 at 11:43 am  Leave a Comment  
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Merry Christmas from Dylan’s

We’d like to wish all of our friends and volunteers a very Merry Christmas and thank you for your support once again this year.

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It’s been another wonderful year at the Dylan Thomas Birthplace with visitors from all over the World coming to learn more about the self-proclaimed ‘Rimbaud of Cwmdonkin Drive.’ Offering hosted visits, dining experiences and overnight B&B and self catering stays – The 102 year old house that witnessed so much creativity offers something for everyone, let alone being the ultimate experience for any fan of the great Welsh ‘man of words.’

But don’t just take our word for it, take a look at what some of our visitors have said via our tripdavisor page!

We’ll close with this beautiful nostalgia filled video to give you an idea of what Christmas was like for Dylan and family.

Best wishes once more to you and your loved ones and we hope to hear from you in the coming New Year.

Don’t forget to visit our website www.dylanthomasbirthplace.com

A naughty child’s Christmas in the Alpines…

Here is a rather unpleasant character from largely Alpine Christmas folklore featuring on a rather terrifying Christmas card from the early 1900s. ‘Greetings from the Krampus.’ As a boy and even into manhood Dylan was fascinated and had a great love of the grisly fairy tales that he had read whilst growing up, often reading them to his own children. One of his favourite reads was ‘Struwwelpeter’ a book of Germanic origin containing many children’s morality tales, that if weren’t adhered to, would often see something most unfortunate happen to the main protagonist in the stories. 

The ‘Krampus’ is a kind of Christmas Devil who takes away children who have misbehaved throughout the year for them to be never seen again. It is typically portrayed as a black, hairy beast with horns,a lolling tongue, cloven hooves, chains, a birch for beating and a sack or basket for trapping the children. 

The character is not commonly known in Britain but still very much exists in Alpine countries where various traditions are maintained. We know that Dylan was a very mischievous boy growing up, perhaps it may have been different if the tales of the Krampus had been more prominent in British folklore?

Take a look at our website www.dylanthomasbirthplace.com for details on how you can create your own unique experiences including tours, overnight stays and dining experiences at the home of Dylan Thomas, Wales’ most renowned writer!

Published in: on 23 December, 2016 at 9:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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