New York - Millbrook - Dylan Thomas in 1952. And Dylan's Life and Death.(PID:51859502618) Source
posted by alias pepandtim on Thursday 3rd of February 2022 09:44:26 AM
The Postcard A postally unused postcard that was published by Fotofolio of Box 661, Canal Sta., NY, NY. The photography was by Rollie McKenna. The card has a divided back. Dylan Thomas Dylan Marlais Thomas, who was born in Swansea on the 27th. October 1914, was a Welsh poet and writer whose works include the poems 'Do not go Gentle Into That Good Night' and 'And Death Shall Have No Dominion.' Dylan's other work included 'Under Milk Wood' as well as stories and radio broadcasts such as 'A Child's Christmas in Wales' and 'Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog'. He became widely popular in his lifetime, and remained so after his death at the age of 39 in New York City. By then he had acquired a reputation, which he had encouraged, as a roistering, drunken and doomed poet. In 1931, when he was 16, Thomas, an undistinguished pupil, left school to become a reporter for the South Wales Daily Post, only to leave under pressure 18 months later. Many of his works appeared in print while he was still a teenager. In 1934, the publication of 'Light Breaks Where no Sun Shines' caught the attention of the literary world. While living in London, Thomas met Caitlin Macnamara. They married in 1937, and had three children: Llewelyn, Aeronwy and Colm. Thomas came to be appreciated as a popular poet during his lifetime, though he found it hard to earn a living as a writer. He began augmenting his income with reading tours and radio broadcasts. His radio recordings for the BBC during the late 1940's brought him to the public's attention, and he was frequently used by the BBC as an accessible voice of the literary scene. Thomas first travelled to the United States in the 1950's. His readings there brought him a degree of fame, while his erratic behaviour and drinking worsened. His time in the United States cemented his legend, however, and he went on to record to vinyl such works as 'A Child's Christmas in Wales'. During his fourth trip to New York in 1953, Thomas became gravely ill and fell into a coma. He died on the 9th. November 1953, and his body was returned to Wales. On the 25th. November 1953, he was laid to rest in St Martin's churchyard in Laugharne, Carmarthenshire. Although Thomas wrote exclusively in the English language, he has been acknowledged as one of the most important Welsh poets of the 20th century. He is noted for his original, rhythmic and ingenious use of words and imagery. He is regarded by many as one of the great modern poets, and he still remains popular with the public. Dylan Thomas - The Early Years Dylan was born at 5 Cwmdonkin Drive, the son of Florence Hannah (née Williams; 1882–1958), a seamstress, and David John Thomas (1876–1952), a teacher. His father had a first-class honours degree in English from University College, Aberystwyth and ambitions to rise above his position teaching English literature at the local grammar school. Thomas had one sibling, Nancy Marles (1906–1953), who was eight years his senior. The children spoke only English, though their parents were bilingual in English and Welsh, and David Thomas gave Welsh lessons at home. Thomas's father chose the name Dylan, which means 'Son of the Sea', after Dylan ail Don, a character in The Mabinogion. Dylan's middle name, Marlais, was given in honour of his great-uncle, William Thomas, a Unitarian minister and poet whose bardic name was Gwilym Marles. Dylan caused his mother to worry that he might be teased as the 'Dull One.' When he broadcast on Welsh BBC, early in his career, he was introduced using this pronunciation. Thomas favoured the Anglicised pronunciation, and gave instructions that it should be spoken as 'Dillan.' The red-brick semi-detached house at 5 Cwmdonkin Drive (in the respectable area of the Uplands), in which Thomas was born and lived until he was 23, had been bought by his parents a few months before his birth. Dylan's childhood featured regular summer trips to the Llansteffan Peninsula, a Welsh-speaking part of Carmarthenshire, where his maternal relatives were the sixth generation to farm there. In the land between Llangain and Llansteffan, his mother's family, the Williamses and their close relatives, worked a dozen farms with over a thousand acres between them. The memory of Fernhill, a dilapidated 15-acre farm rented by his maternal aunt, Ann Jones, and her husband, Jim, is evoked in the 1945 lyrical poem 'Fern Hill', but is portrayed more accurately in his short story, 'The Peaches'. Thomas had bronchitis and asthma in childhood, and struggled with these throughout his life. He was indulged by his mother and enjoyed being mollycoddled, a trait he carried into adulthood, and he was skilful in gaining attention and sympathy. Thomas's formal education began at Mrs Hole's Dame School, a private school on Mirador Crescent, a few streets away from his home. He described his experience there in Reminiscences of Childhood: "Never was there such a dame school as ours, so firm and kind and smelling of galoshes, with the sweet and fumbled music of the piano lessons drifting down from upstairs to the lonely schoolroom, where only the sometimes tearful wicked sat over undone sums, or to repent a little crime – the pulling of a girl's hair during geography, the sly shin kick under the table during English literature". In October 1925, Dylan Thomas enrolled at Swansea Grammar School for boys, in Mount Pleasant, where his father taught English. He was an undistinguished pupil who shied away from school, preferring reading. In his first year, one of his poems was published in the school's magazine, and before he left he became its editor. In June 1928, Thomas won the school's mile race, held at St. Helen's Ground; he carried a newspaper photograph of his victory with him until his death. During his final school years Dylan began writing poetry in notebooks; the first poem, dated 27th. April 1930, is entitled 'Osiris, Come to Isis'. In 1931, when he was 16, Thomas left school to become a reporter for the South Wales Daily Post, only to leave under pressure 18 months later. Thomas continued to work as a freelance journalist for several years, during which time he remained at Cwmdonkin Drive and continued to add to his notebooks, amassing 200 poems in four books between 1930 and 1934. Of the 90 poems he published, half were written during these years. In his free time, Dylan joined the amateur dramatic group at the Little Theatre in Mumbles, visited the cinema in Uplands, took walks along Swansea Bay, and frequented Swansea's pubs, especially the Antelope and the Mermaid Hotels in Mumbles. In the Kardomah Café, close to the newspaper office in Castle Street, he met his creative contemporaries, including his friend the poet Vernon Watkins. 1933–1939 In 1933, Thomas visited London for probably the first time. Thomas was a teenager when many of the poems for which he became famous were published: -- 'And Death Shall Have no Dominion' -- 'Before I Knocked' -- 'The Force That Through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower'. 'And Death Shall Have no Dominion' appeared in the New English Weekly in May 1933: 'And death shall have no dominion. Dead men naked they shall be one With the man in the wind and the west moon; When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone, They shall have stars at elbow and foot; Though they go mad they shall be sane, Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again Though lovers be lost love shall not; And death shall have no dominion'. When 'Light Breaks Where no Sun Shines' appeared in The Listener in 1934, it caught the attention of three senior figures in literary London - T. S. Eliot, Geoffrey Grigson and Stephen Spender. They contacted Thomas, and his first poetry volume, '18 Poems', was published in December 1934. '18 Poems' was noted for its visionary qualities which led to critic Desmond Hawkins writing that: "The work is the sort of bomb that bursts no more than once in three years". The volume was critically acclaimed, and won a contest run by the Sunday Referee, netting him new admirers from the London poetry world, including Edith Sitwell and Edwin Muir. The anthology was published by Fortune Press, in part a vanity publisher that did not pay its writers, and expected them to buy a certain number of copies themselves. A similar arrangement was used by other new authors, including Philip Larkin. In September 1935, Thomas met Vernon Watkins, thus beginning a lifelong friendship. Dylan introduced Watkins, working at Lloyds Bank at the time, to his friends. The group of writers, musicians and artists became known as "The Kardomah Gang". In those days, Thomas used to frequent the cinema on Mondays with Tom Warner who, like Watkins, had recently suffered a nervous breakdown. After these trips, Warner would bring Thomas back for supper with his aunt. On one occasion, when she served him a boiled egg, she had to cut its top off for him, as Thomas did not know how to do this. This was because his mother had done it for him all his life, an example of her coddling him. Years later, his wife Caitlin would still have to prepare his eggs for him. In December 1935, Thomas contributed the poem 'The Hand That Signed the Paper' to Issue 18 of the bi-monthly New Verse. In 1936, Dylan's next collection 'Twenty-five Poems' received much critical praise. In 1938, Thomas won the Oscar Blumenthal Prize for Poetry; it was also the year in which New Directions offered to be his publisher in the United States. In all, he wrote half his poems while living at Cwmdonkin Drive before moving to London. It was the time that Thomas's reputation for heavy drinking developed. In early 1936, Thomas met Caitlin Macnamara (1913–94), a 22-year-old blonde-haired, blue-eyed dancer of Irish and French descent. She had run away from home, intent on making a career in dance, and at the age of 18 joined the chorus line at the London Palladium. Introduced by Augustus John, Caitlin's lover, they met in The Wheatsheaf pub on Rathbone Place in London's West End. Laying his head on her lap, a drunken Thomas proposed. Thomas liked to comment that he and Caitlin were in bed together ten minutes after they first met. Although Caitlin initially continued her relationship with Augustus John, she and Thomas began a correspondence, and by the second half of 1936 they were courting. They married at the register office in Penzance, Cornwall, on the 11th. July 1937. In early 1938, they moved to Wales, renting a cottage in the village of Laugharne, Carmarthenshire. Their first child, Llewelyn Edouard, was born on the 30th. January 1939. By the late 1930's, Thomas was embraced as the "Poetic Herald" for a group of English poets, the New Apocalyptics. However Thomas refused to align himself with them, and declined to sign their manifesto. He later stated that: "They are intellectual muckpots leaning on a theory". Despite Dylan's rejection, many of the group, including Henry Treece, modelled their work on Thomas's. During the politically charged atmosphere of the 1930's, Thomas's sympathies were very much with the radical left, to the point of holding close links with the communists, as well as being decidedly pacifist and anti-fascist. He was a supporter of the left-wing No More War Movement, and boasted about participating in demonstrations against the British Union of Fascists. 1939–1945 In 1939, a collection of 16 poems and seven of the 20 short stories published by Thomas in magazines since 1934, appeared as 'The Map of Love'. Ten stories in his next book, 'Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog' (1940), were based less on lavish fantasy than those in 'The Map of Love', and more on real-life romances featuring himself in Wales. Sales of both books were poor, resulting in Thomas living on meagre fees from writing and reviewing. At this time he borrowed heavily from friends and acquaintances. Hounded by creditors, Thomas and his family left Laugharne in July 1940 and moved to the home of critic John Davenport in Marshfield, Gloucestershire. There Thomas collaborated with Davenport on the satire 'The Death of the King's Canary', though due to fears of libel, the work was not published until 1976. At the outset of the Second World War, Thomas was worried about conscription, and referred to his ailment as "An Unreliable Lung". Coughing sometimes confined him to bed, and he had a history of bringing up blood and mucus. After initially seeking employment in a reserved occupation, he managed to be classified Grade III, which meant that he would be among the last to be called up for service. Saddened to see his friends going on active service, Dylan continued drinking, and struggled to support his family. He wrote begging letters to random literary figures asking for support, a plan he hoped would provide a long-term regular income. Thomas supplemented his income by writing scripts for the BBC, which not only gave him additional earnings but also provided evidence that he was engaged in essential war work. In February 1941, Swansea was bombed by the Luftwaffe in a three night blitz. Castle Street was one of many streets that suffered badly; rows of shops, including the Kardomah Café, were destroyed. Thomas walked through the bombed-out shell of the town centre with his friend Bert Trick. Upset at the sight, he concluded: "Our Swansea is dead". Soon after the bombing raids, he wrote a radio play, 'Return Journey Home', which described the café as being "razed to the snow". The play was first broadcast on the 15th. June 1947. The Kardomah Café reopened on Portland Street after the war. In May 1941, Thomas and Caitlin left their son with his grandmother at Blashford and moved to London. Thomas hoped to find employment in the film industry, and wrote to the director of the films division of the Ministry of Information (MOI). After initially being rebuffed, he found work with Strand Films, providing him with his first regular income since the Daily Post. Strand produced films for the MOI; Thomas scripted at least five films in 1942. In five film projects, between 1942 and 1945, the Ministry of Information (MOI) commissioned Thomas to script a series of documentaries about both urban planning and wartime patriotism, all in partnership with director John Eldridge: -- 'Wales: Green Mountain, Black Mountain'. -- 'New Towns for Old' (on post-war reconstruction). -- 'Fuel for Battle'. -- 'Our Country' (1945) was a romantic tour of Great Britain set to Thomas's poetry. -- 'A City Reborn'. Other projects included: -- 'This Is Colour' (a history of the British dyeing industry). -- 'These Are The Men' (1943), a more ambitious piece in which Thomas's verse accompanied Leni Riefenstahl's footage of an early Nuremberg Rally. -- 'Conquest of a Germ' (1944) explored the use of early antibiotics in the fight against pneumonia and tuberculosis. In early 1943, Thomas began a relationship with Pamela Glendower; one of several affairs he had during his marriage. The affairs either ran out of steam or were halted after Caitlin discovered his infidelity. In March 1943, Caitlin gave birth to a daughter, Aeronwy, in London. They lived in a run-down studio in Chelsea, made up of a single large room with a curtain to separate the kitchen. The Thomas family made several escapes back to Wales during the war. Between 1941 and 1943, they lived intermittently in Plas Gelli, Talsarn, in Cardiganshire. Plas Gelli sits close by the River Aeron, after whom Aeronwy is thought to have been named. Some of Thomas’ letters from Gelli can be found in his 'Collected Letters'. The Thomases shared the mansion with his childhood friends from Swansea, Vera and Evelyn Phillips. Vera's friendship with the Thomases in nearby New Quay is portrayed in the 2008 film, 'The Edge of Love'. In July 1944, with the threat of German flying bombs landing on London, Thomas moved to the family cottage at Blaencwm near Llangain, Carmarthenshire, where he resumed writing poetry, completing 'Holy Spring' and 'Vision and Prayer'. In September 1944, the Thomas family moved to New Quay in Cardiganshire (Ceredigion), where they rented Majoda, a wood and asbestos bungalow on the cliffs overlooking Cardigan Bay. It was here that Thomas wrote the radio piece 'Quite Early One Morning', a sketch for his later work, 'Under Milk Wood'. Of the poetry written at this time, of note is 'Fern Hill', believed to have been started while living in New Quay, but completed at Blaencwm in mid-1945. Dylan's first biographer, Constantine FitzGibbon wrote that: "His nine months in New Quay were a second flowering, a period of fertility that recalls the earliest days, with a great outpouring of poems and a good deal of other material". His second biographer, Paul Ferris, concurred: "On the grounds of output, the bungalow deserves a plaque of its own." The Dylan Thomas scholar, Walford Davies, has noted that: "New Quay was crucial in supplementing the gallery of characters Thomas had to hand for writing 'Under Milk Wood'." Dylan Thomas's Broadcasting Years 1945–1949 Although Thomas had previously written for the BBC, it was a minor and intermittent source of income. In 1943, he wrote and recorded a 15-minute talk entitled 'Reminiscences of Childhood' for the Welsh BBC. In December 1944, he recorded 'Quite Early One Morning' (produced by Aneirin Talfan Davies, again for the Welsh BBC), but when Davies offered it for national broadcast, BBC London initially turned it down. However on the 31st. August 1945, the BBC Home Service broadcast 'Quite Early One Morning' nationally, and in the three subsequent years, Dylan made over a hundred broadcasts for the BBC, not only for his poetry readings, but for discussions and critiques. In the second half of 1945, Dylan began reading for the BBC Radio programme, 'Book of Verse', that was broadcast weekly to the Far East. This provided Thomas with a regular income, and brought him into contact with Louis MacNeice, a congenial drinking companion whose advice Thomas cherished. On the 29th. September 1946, the BBC began transmitting the Third Programme, a high-culture network which provided further opportunities for Thomas. He appeared in the play 'Comus' for the Third Programme, the day after the network launched, and his rich, sonorous voice led to character parts, including the lead in Aeschylus's 'Agamemnon', and Satan in an adaptation of 'Paradise Lost'. Thomas remained a popular guest on radio talk shows for the BBC, who stated: "He is useful should a younger generation poet be needed". He had an uneasy relationship with BBC management, and a staff job was never an option, with drinking cited as the problem. Despite this, Thomas became a familiar radio voice and well-known celebrity within Great Britain. By late September 1945, the Thomases had left Wales, and were living with various friends in London. In December, they moved to Oxford to live in a summerhouse on the banks of the Cherwell. It belonged to the historian, A. J. P. Taylor. His wife, Margaret, became Thomas’s most committed patron. The publication of 'Deaths and Entrances' in February 1946 was a major turning point for Thomas. Poet and critic Walter J. Turner commented in The Spectator: "This book alone, in my opinion, ranks him as a major poet". From 'In my Craft or Sullen Art,' 'Deaths and Entrances' (1946): 'Not for the proud man apart From the raging moon, I write On these spindrift pages Nor for the towering dead With their nightingales and psalms But for the lovers, their arms Round the griefs of the ages, Who pay no praise or wages Nor heed my craft or art'. The following year, in April 1947, the Thomases travelled to Italy, after Thomas had been awarded a Society of Authors scholarship. They stayed first in villas near Rapallo and then Florence, before moving to a hotel in Rio Marina on the island of Elba. On their return to England Thomas and his family moved, in September 1947, into the Manor House in South Leigh, just west of Oxford, found for him by Margaret Taylor. He continued with his work for the BBC, completed a number of film scripts, and worked further on his ideas for 'Under Milk Wood'. In March 1949 Thomas travelled to Prague. He had been invited by the Czech government to attend the inauguration of the Czechoslovak Writers' Union. Jiřina Hauková, who had previously published translations of some of Thomas' poems, was his guide and interpreter. In her memoir, Hauková recalls that at a party in Prague, Thomas narrated the first version of his radio play 'Under Milk Wood.' She describes how he outlined the plot about a town that was declared insane, and then portrayed the predicament of an eccentric organist and a baker with two wives. A month later, in May 1949, Thomas and his family moved to his final home, the Boat House at Laugharne, purchased for him at a cost of £2,500 in April 1949 by Margaret Taylor. Thomas acquired a garage a hundred yards from the house on a cliff ledge which he turned into his writing shed, and where he wrote several of his most acclaimed poems. To see a photograph of the interior of Dylan's shed, please search for the tag 55DTW96 Just before moving into the Boat House, Thomas rented Pelican House opposite his regular drinking den, Brown's Hotel, for his parents. They both lived there from 1949 until Dylan's father 'D.J.' died on the 16th. December 1952. His mother continued to live there until 1953. Caitlin gave birth to their third child, a boy named Colm Garan Hart, on the 25th. July 1949. In October 1949, the New Zealand poet Allen Curnow came to visit Thomas at the Boat House, who took him to his writing shed. Curnow recalls: "Dylan fished out a draft to show me of the unfinished 'Under Milk Wood' that was then called 'The Town That Was Mad'." Dylan Thomas's American tours, 1950–1953 (a) The First American Tour The American poet John Brinnin invited Thomas to New York, where in 1950 they embarked on a lucrative three-month tour of arts centres and campuses. The tour, which began in front of an audience of a thousand at the Kaufmann Auditorium in the Poetry Centre in New York, took in a further 40 venues. During the tour, Thomas was invited to many parties and functions, and on several occasions became drunk - going out of his way to shock people - and was a difficult guest. Dylan drank before some of his readings, although it is argued that he may have pretended to be more affected by the alcohol than he actually was. The writer Elizabeth Hardwick recalled how intoxicated a performer he could be, and how the tension would build before a performance: "Would he arrive only to break down on the stage? Would some dismaying scene take place at the faculty party? Would he be offensive, violent, obscene?" Dylan's wife Caitlin said in her memoir: "Nobody ever needed encouragement less, and he was drowned in it." On returning to Great Britain, Thomas began work on two further poems, 'In the White Giant's Thigh', which he read on the Third Programme in September 1950: 'Who once were a bloom of wayside brides in the hawed house And heard the lewd, wooed field flow to the coming frost, The scurrying, furred small friars squeal in the dowse Of day, in the thistle aisles, till the white owl crossed.' He also worked on the incomplete 'In Country Heaven'. In October 1950, Thomas sent a draft of the first 39 pages of 'The Town That Was Mad' to the BBC. The task of seeing this work through to production was assigned to the BBC's Douglas Cleverdon, who had been responsible for casting Thomas in 'Paradise Lost'. However, despite Cleverdon's urgings, the script slipped from Thomas's priorities, and in early 1951 he took a trip to Iran to work on a film for the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. The film was never made, with Thomas returning to Wales in February, though his time there allowed him to provide a few minutes of material for a BBC documentary, 'Persian Oil'. Early in 1951 Thomas wrote two poems, which Thomas's principal biographer, Paul Ferris, describes as "unusually blunt." One was the ribald 'Lament', and the other was an ode, in the form of a villanelle, to his dying father 'Do not go Gentle Into That Good Night". (A villanelle is a pastoral or lyrical poem of nineteen lines, with only two rhymes throughout, and some lines repeated). Despite a range of wealthy patrons, including Margaret Taylor, Princess Marguerite Caetani and Marged Howard-Stepney, Thomas was still in financial difficulty, and he wrote several begging letters to notable literary figures, including the likes of T. S. Eliot. Margaret Taylor was not keen on Thomas taking another trip to the United States, and thought that if he had a permanent address in London he would be able to gain steady work there. She bought a property, 54 Delancey Street, in Camden Town, and in late 1951 Thomas and Caitlin lived in the basement flat. Thomas described the flat as his "London House of Horror", and did not return there after his 1952 tour of America. (b) The Second American Tour Thomas undertook a second tour of the United States in 1952, this time with Caitlin - after she had discovered that he had been unfaithful on his earlier trip. They drank heavily, and Thomas began to suffer with gout and lung problems. It was during this tour that the above photograph was taken. The second tour was the most intensive of the four, taking in 46 engagements. The trip also resulted in Thomas recording his first poetry to vinyl, which Caedmon Records released in America later that year. One of his works recorded during this time, 'A Child's Christmas in Wales', became his most popular prose work in America. The recording was a 2008 selection for the United States National Recording Registry, which stated that: "It is credited with launching the audiobook industry in the United States". (c) The Third American Tour In April 1953, Thomas returned alone for a third tour of America. He performed a "work in progress" version of 'Under Milk Wood', solo, for the first time at Harvard University on the 3rd. May 1953. A week later, the work was performed with a full cast at the Poetry Centre in New York. Dylan met the deadline only after being locked in a room by Brinnin's assistant, Liz Reitell, and was still editing the script on the afternoon of the performance; its last lines were handed to the actors as they put on their makeup. During this penultimate tour, Thomas met the composer Igor Stravinsky. Igor had become an admirer of Dylan after having been introduced to his poetry by W. H. Auden. They had discussions about collaborating on a "musical theatrical work" for which Dylan would provide the libretto on the theme of: "The rediscovery of love and language in what might be left after the world after the bomb." The shock of Thomas's death later in the year moved Stravinsky to compose his 'In Memoriam Dylan Thomas' for tenor, string quartet and four trombones. The work's first performance in Los Angeles in 1954 was introduced with a tribute to Thomas from Aldous Huxley. Thomas spent the last nine or ten days of his third tour in New York mostly in the company of Reitell, with whom he had an affair. During this time, Thomas fractured his arm falling down a flight of stairs when drunk. Reitell's doctor, Milton Feltenstein, put his arm in plaster, and treated him for gout and gastritis. After returning home, Thomas worked on 'Under Milk Wood' in Wales before sending the original manuscript to Douglas Cleverdon on the 15th. October 1953. It was copied and returned to Thomas, who lost it in a pub in London and required a duplicate to take to America. (d) The Fourth American Tour Thomas flew to the States on the 19th. October 1953 for what would be his final tour. He died in New York before the BBC could record 'Under Milk Wood'. Richard Burton featured in its first broadcast in 1954, and was joined by Elizabeth Taylor in a subsequent film. In 1954, the play won the Prix Italia for literary or dramatic programmes. Thomas's last collection 'Collected Poems, 1934–1952', published when he was 38, won the Foyle poetry prize. Reviewing the volume, critic Philip Toynbee declared that: "Thomas is the greatest living poet in the English language". There followed a series of distressing events for Dylan. His father died from pneumonia just before Christmas 1952. In the first few months of 1953, his sister died from liver cancer, one of his patrons took an overdose of sleeping pills, three friends died at an early age, and Caitlin had an abortion. Thomas left Laugharne on the 9th. October 1953 on the first leg of his trip to America. He called on his mother, Florence, to say goodbye: "He always felt that he had to get out from this country because of his chest being so bad." Thomas had suffered from chest problems for most of his life, though they began in earnest soon after he moved in May 1949 to the Boat House at Laugharne - the "Bronchial Heronry", as he called it. Within weeks of moving in, he visited a local doctor, who prescribed medicine for both his chest and throat. Whilst waiting in London before his flight in October 1953, Thomas stayed with the comedian Harry Locke and worked on 'Under Milk Wood'. Locke noted that Thomas was having trouble with his chest, with terrible coughing fits that made him go purple in the face. He was also using an inhaler to help his breathing. There were reports, too, that Thomas was also having blackouts. His visit to the BBC producer Philip Burton a few days before he left for New York, was interrupted by a blackout. On his last night in London, he had another in the company of his fellow poet Louis MacNeice. Thomas arrived in New York on the 20th. October 1953 to undertake further performances of 'Under Milk Wood', organised by John Brinnin, his American agent and Director of the Poetry Centre. Brinnin did not travel to New York, but remained in Boston in order to write. He handed responsibility to his assistant, Liz Reitell, who was keen to see Thomas for the first time since their three-week romance early in the year. She met Thomas at Idlewild Airport and was shocked at his appearance. He looked pale, delicate and shaky, not his usual robust self: "He was very ill when he got here." After being taken by Reitell to check in at the Chelsea Hotel, Thomas took the first rehearsal of 'Under Milk Wood'. They then went to the White Horse Tavern in Greenwich Village, before returning to the Chelsea Hotel. (Bob Dylan, formerly Robert Zimmerman, used to perform at the White Horse; Dylan Thomas was his favourite poet, and it is highly likely that Bob adopted Dylan's first name as his surname). The next day, Reitell invited Thomas to her apartment, but he declined. They went sightseeing, but Thomas felt unwell, and retired to his bed for the rest of the afternoon. Reitell gave him half a grain (32.4 milligrams) of phenobarbitone to help him sleep, and spent the night at the hotel with him. Two days later, on the 23rd. October 1953, at the third rehearsal, Thomas said he was too ill to take part, but he struggled on, shivering and burning with fever, before collapsing on the stage. The next day, 24th. October, Reitell took Thomas to see her doctor, Milton Feltenstein, who administered cortisone injections. Thomas made it through the first performance that evening, but collapsed immediately afterwards. Dylan told a friend who had come back-stage: "This circus out there has taken the life out of me for now." Reitell later said: "Feltenstein was rather a wild doctor who thought injections would cure anything". At the next performance on the 25th. October, his fellow actors realised that Thomas was very ill: "He was desperately ill…we didn’t think that he would be able to do the last performance because he was so ill… Dylan literally couldn’t speak he was so ill…still my greatest memory of it is that he had no voice." On the evening of the 27th. October, Thomas attended his 39th. birthday party, but felt unwell, and returned to his hotel after an hour. The next day, he took part in 'Poetry and the Film', a recorded symposium at Cinema 16. A turning point came on the 2nd. November. Air pollution in New York had risen significantly, and exacerbated chest illnesses such as Thomas's. By the end of the month, over 200 New Yorkers had died from the smog. On the 3rd. November, Thomas spent most of the day in his room, entertaining various friends. He went out in the evening to keep two drink appointments. After returning to the hotel, he went out again for a drink at 2 am. After drinking at the White Horse, Thomas returned to the Hotel Chelsea, declaring: "I've had eighteen straight whiskies. I think that's the record!" However the barman and the owner of the pub who served him later commented that Thomas could not have drunk more than half that amount, although the barman could have been trying to exonerate himself from any blame. Thomas had an appointment at a clam house in New Jersey with Todd on the 4th. November. When Todd telephoned the Chelsea that morning, Thomas said he was feeling ill, and postponed the engagement. Todd thought that Dylan sounded "terrible". The poet, Harvey Breit, was another to phone that morning. He thought that Thomas sounded "bad". Thomas' voice, recalled Breit, was "low and hoarse". Harvey had wanted to say: "You sound as though from the tomb". However instead Harvey told Thomas that he sounded like Louis Armstrong. Later, Thomas went drinking with Reitell at the White Horse and, feeling sick again, returned to the hotel. Dr. Feltenstein came to see him three times that day, administering the cortisone secretant ACTH by injection and, on his third visit, half a grain (32.4 milligrams) of morphine sulphate, which affected Thomas' breathing. Reitell became increasingly concerned, and telephoned Feltenstein for advice. He suggested that she get male assistance, so she called upon the artist Jack Heliker, who arrived before 11 pm. At midnight on the 5th. November, Thomas's breathing became more difficult, and his face turned blue. Reitell phoned Feltenstein who arrived at the hotel at about 1 am, and called for an ambulance. It then took another hour for the ambulance to arrive at St. Vincent's, even though it was only a few blocks from the Chelsea. Thomas was admitted to the emergency ward at St Vincent's Hospital at 1:58 am. He was comatose, and his medical notes stated that: "The impression upon admission was acute alcoholic encephalopathy damage to the brain by alcohol, for which the patient was treated without response". Feltenstein then took control of Thomas's care, even though he did not have admitting rights at St. Vincent's. The hospital's senior brain specialist, Dr. C. G. Gutierrez-Mahoney, was not called to examine Thomas until the afternoon of the 6th. November, thirty-six hours after Thomas' admission. Dylan's wife Caitlin flew to America the following day, and was taken to the hospital, by which time a tracheotomy had been performed. Her reported first words were: "Is the bloody man dead yet?" Caitlin was allowed to see Thomas only for 40 minutes in the morning, but returned in the afternoon and, in a drunken rage, threatened to kill John Brinnin. When she became uncontrollable, she was put in a straitjacket and committed, by Feltenstein, to the River Crest private psychiatric detox clinic on Long Island. It is now believed that Thomas had been suffering from bronchitis, pneumonia and emphysema before his admission to St Vincent's. In their 2004 paper, 'Death by Neglect', D. N. Thomas and Dr Simon Barton disclose that Thomas was found to have pneumonia when he was admitted to hospital in a coma. Doctors took three hours to restore his breathing, using artificial respiration and oxygen. Summarising their findings, they conclude: "The medical notes indicate that, on admission, Dylan's bronchial disease was found to be very extensive, affecting upper, mid and lower lung fields, both left and right." The forensic pathologist, Professor Bernard Knight, concurs: "Death was clearly due to a severe lung infection with extensive advanced bronchopneumonia. The severity of the chest infection, with greyish consolidated areas of well-established pneumonia, suggests that it had started before admission to hospital." Thomas died at noon on the 9th. November 1953, having never recovered from his coma. He was 39 years of age when he died. Aftermath of Dylan Thomas's Death Rumours circulated of a brain haemorrhage, followed by competing reports of a mugging, or even that Thomas had drunk himself to death. Later, speculation arose about drugs and diabetes. At the post-mortem, the pathologist found three causes of death - pneumonia, brain swelling and a fatty liver. Despite Dylan's heavy drinking, his liver showed no sign of cirrhosis. The publication of John Brinnin's 1955 biography 'Dylan Thomas in America' cemented Thomas's legacy as the "doomed poet". Brinnin focuses on Thomas's last few years, and paints a picture of him as a drunk and a philanderer. Later biographies have criticised Brinnin's view, especially his coverage of Thomas's death. David Thomas in 'Fatal Neglect: Who Killed Dylan Thomas?' claims that Brinnin, along with Reitell and Feltenstein, were culpable. FitzGibbon's 1965 biography ignores Thomas's heavy drinking and skims over his death, giving just two pages in his detailed book to Thomas's demise. Ferris in his 1989 biography includes Thomas's heavy drinking, but is more critical of those around him in his final days, and does not draw the conclusion that he drank himself to death. Many sources have criticised Feltenstein's role and actions, especially his incorrect diagnosis of delirium tremens and the high dose of morphine he administered. Dr C. G. de Gutierrez-Mahoney, the doctor who treated Thomas while at St. Vincent's, concluded that Feltenstein's failure to see that Thomas was gravely ill and have him admitted to hospital sooner was even more culpable than his use of morphine. Caitlin Thomas's autobiographies, 'Caitlin Thomas - Leftover Life to Kill' (1957) and 'My Life with Dylan Thomas: Double Drink Story' (1997), describe the effects of alcohol on the poet and on their relationship: "Ours was not only a love story, it was a drink story, because without alcohol it would never had got on its rocking feet. The bar was our altar." Biographer Andrew Lycett ascribed the decline in Thomas's health to an alcoholic co-dependent relationship with his wife, who deeply resented his extramarital affairs. In contrast, Dylan biographers Andrew Sinclair and George Tremlett express the view that Thomas was not an alcoholic. Tremlett argues that many of Thomas's health issues stemmed from undiagnosed diabetes. Thomas died intestate, with assets worth £100. His body was brought back to Wales for burial in the village churchyard at Laugharne. Dylan's funeral, which Brinnin did not attend, took place at St Martin's Church in Laugharne on the 24th. November 1953. Six friends from the village carried Thomas's coffin. Caitlin, without her customary hat, walked behind the coffin, with his childhood friend Daniel Jones at her arm and her mother by her side. The procession to the church was filmed, and the wake took place at Brown's Hotel. Thomas's fellow poet and long-time friend Vernon Watkins wrote The Times obituary. Thomas's widow, Caitlin, died in 1994, and was laid to rest alongside him. Dylan's mother Florence died in August 1958. Thomas's elder son, Llewelyn, died in 2000, his daughter, Aeronwy in 2009, and his youngest son Colm in 2012. Dylan Thomas's Poetry Thomas's refusal to align with any literary group or movement has made him and his work difficult to categorise. Although influenced by the modern symbolism and surrealism movements, he refused to follow such creeds. Instead, critics view Thomas as part of the modernism and romanticism movements, though attempts to pigeon-hole him within a particular neo-romantic school have been unsuccessful. Elder Olson, in his 1954 critical study of Thomas's poetry, wrote: "There is a further characteristic which distinguished Thomas's work from that of other poets. It was unclassifiable." Olson went on to say that in a postmodern age that continually attempted to demand that poetry have social reference, none could be found in Thomas's work, and that his work was so obscure that critics could not analyse it. Thomas's verbal style played against strict verse forms, such as in the villanelle 'Do not go Gentle Into That Good Night'. His images appear carefully ordered in a patterned sequence, and his major theme was the unity of all life, the continuing process of life and death, and new life that linked the generations. Thomas saw biology as a magical transformation producing unity out of diversity, and in his poetry sought a poetic ritual to celebrate this unity. He saw men and women locked in cycles of growth, love, procreation, new growth, death, and new life. Therefore, each image engenders its opposite. Thomas derived his closely woven, sometimes self-contradictory images from the Bible, Welsh folklore, preaching, and Sigmund Freud. Explaining the source of his imagery, Thomas wrote in a letter to Glyn Jones: "My own obscurity is quite an unfashionable one, based, as it is, on a preconceived symbolism derived (I'm afraid all this sounds woolly and pretentious) from the cosmic significance of the human anatomy". Thomas's early poetry was noted for its verbal density, alliteration, sprung rhythm and internal rhyme, and some critics detected the influence of the English poet Gerard Manley Hopkins. Hopkins, had taught himself Welsh, and used sprung verse, bringing some features of Welsh poetic metre into his work. However when Henry Treece wrote to Thomas comparing his style to that of Hopkins, Thomas wrote back denying any such influence. Thomas greatly admired Thomas Hardy, who is regarded as an influence. When Thomas travelled in America, he recited some of Hardy's work in his readings. Other poets from whom critics believe Thomas drew influence include James Joyce, Arthur Rimbaud and D. H. Lawrence. William York Tindall, in his 1962 study, 'A Reader's Guide to Dylan Thomas', finds comparison between Thomas's and Joyce's wordplay, while he notes the themes of rebirth and nature are common to the works of Lawrence and Thomas. Although Thomas described himself as the "Rimbaud of Cwmdonkin Drive", he stated that the phrase "Swansea's Rimbaud" was coined by the poet Roy Campbell. Critics have explored the origins of Thomas's mythological pasts in his works such as 'The Orchards', which Ann Elizabeth Mayer believes reflects the Welsh myths of the Mabinogion. Thomas's poetry is notable for its musicality, most clear in 'Fern Hill', 'In Country Sleep', 'Ballad of the Long-legged Bait' and 'In the White Giant's Thigh' from Under Milk Wood. Thomas once confided that the poems which had most influenced him were Mother Goose rhymes which his parents taught him when he was a child: "I should say I wanted to write poetry in the beginning because I had fallen in love with words. The first poems I knew were nursery rhymes, and before I could read them for myself I had come to love the words of them. The words alone. What the words stood for was of a very secondary importance ... I fell in love, that is the only expression I can think of, at once, and am still at the mercy of words, though sometimes now, knowing a little of their behaviour very well, I think I can influence them slightly and have even learned to beat them now and then, which they appear to enjoy. I tumbled for words at once. And, when I began to read the nursery rhymes for myself, and, later, to read other verses and ballads, I knew that I had discovered the most important things, to me, that could be ever." Thomas became an accomplished writer of prose poetry, with collections such as 'Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog' (1940) and 'Quite Early One Morning' (1954) showing he was capable of writing moving short stories. His first published prose work, 'After the Fair', appeared in The New English Weekly on the 15th. March 1934. Jacob Korg believes that one can classify Thomas's fiction work into two main bodies: -- Vigorous fantasies in a poetic style -- After 1939, more straightforward narratives. Korg surmises that Thomas approached his prose writing as an alternate poetic form, which allowed him to produce complex, involuted narratives that do not allow the reader to rest. Dylan Thomas as a Welsh Poet Thomas disliked being regarded as a provincial poet, and decried any notion of 'Welshness' in his poetry. When he wrote to Stephen Spender in 1952, thanking him for a review of his Collected Poems, he added: "Oh, & I forgot. I'm not influenced by Welsh bardic poetry. I can't read Welsh." Despite this, his work was rooted in the geography of Wales. Thomas acknowledged that he returned to Wales when he had difficulty writing, and John Ackerman argues that: "Dylan's inspiration and imagination were rooted in his Welsh background". Caitlin Thomas wrote that: "He worked in a fanatically narrow groove, although there was nothing narrow about the depth and understanding of his feelings. The groove of direct hereditary descent in the land of his birth, which he never in thought, and hardly in body, moved out of." Head of Programmes Wales at the BBC, Aneirin Talfan Davies, who commissioned several of Thomas's early radio talks, believed that the poet's whole attitude is that of the medieval bards. Kenneth O. Morgan counter-argues that it is a difficult enterprise to find traces of cynghanedd (consonant harmony) or cerdd dafod (tongue-craft) in Thomas's poetry. Instead he believes that Dylan's work, especially his earlier, more autobiographical poems, are rooted in a changing country which echoes the Welshness of the past and the Anglicisation of the new industrial nation: "Rural and urban, chapel-going and profane, Welsh and English, unforgiving and deeply compassionate." Fellow poet and critic Glyn Jones believed that any traces of cynghanedd in Thomas's work were accidental, although he felt that Dylan consciously employed one element of Welsh metrics: that of counting syllables per line instead of feet. Constantine Fitzgibbon, who was his first in-depth biographer, wrote: "No major English poet has ever been as Welsh as Dylan". Although Dylan had a deep connection with Wales, he disliked Welsh nationalism. He once wrote: "Land of my fathers, and my fathers can keep it". While often attributed to Thomas himself, this line actually comes from the character Owen Morgan-Vaughan, in the screenplay Thomas wrote for the 1948 British melodrama 'The Three Weird Sisters'. Robert Pocock, a friend from the BBC, recalled: "I only once heard Dylan express an opinion on Welsh Nationalism. He used three words. Two of them were Welsh Nationalism." Although not expressed as strongly, Glyn Jones believed that he and Thomas's friendship cooled in the later years because he had not rejected enough of the elements that Thomas disliked, i.e. "Welsh nationalism and a sort of hill farm morality". Apologetically, in a letter to Keidrych Rhys, editor of the literary magazine 'Wales', Thomas's father wrote: "I'm afraid Dylan isn't much of a Welshman". FitzGibbon asserts that Thomas's negativity towards Welsh nationalism was fostered by his father's hostility towards the Welsh language. Critical Appraisal of Dylan Thomas's Work Thomas's work and stature as a poet have been much debated by critics and biographers since his death. Critical studies have been clouded by Thomas's personality and mythology, especially his drunken persona and death in New York. When Seamus Heaney gave an Oxford lecture on the poet, he opened by addressing the assembly: "Dylan Thomas is now as much a case history as a chapter in the history of poetry". He queried how 'Thomas the Poet' is one of his forgotten attributes. David Holbrook, who has written three books about Thomas, stated in his 1962 publication 'Llareggub Revisited': "The strangest feature of Dylan Thomas's notoriety - not that he is bogus, but that attitudes to poetry attached themselves to him which not only threaten the prestige, effectiveness and accessibility to English poetry, but also destroyed his true voice and, at last, him." The Poetry Archive notes that: "Dylan Thomas's detractors accuse him of being drunk on language as well as whiskey, but whilst there's no doubt that the sound of language is central to his style, he was also a disciplined writer who re-drafted obsessively". Many critics have argued that Thomas's work is too narrow, and that he suffers from verbal extravagance. However those who have championed his work have found the criticism baffling. Robert Lowell wrote in 1947: "Nothing could be more wrongheaded than the English disputes about Dylan Thomas's greatness ... He is a dazzling obscure writer who can be enjoyed without understanding." Kenneth Rexroth said, on reading 'Eighteen Poems': "The reeling excitement of a poetry-intoxicated schoolboy smote the Philistine as hard a blow with one small book as Swinburne had with Poems and Ballads." Philip Larkin, in a letter to Kingsley Amis in 1948, wrote that: "No one can stick words into us like pins... like Thomas can". However he followed that by stating that: "Dylan doesn't use his words to any advantage". Amis was far harsher, finding little of merit in Dylan's work, and claiming that: "He is frothing at the mouth with piss." In 1956, the publication of the anthology 'New Lines' featuring works by the British collective The Movement, which included Amis and Larkin amongst its number, set out a vision of modern poetry that was damning towards the poets of the 1940's. Thomas's work in particular was criticised. David Lodge, writing about The Movement in 1981 stated: "Dylan Thomas was made to stand for everything they detest, verbal obscurity, metaphysical pretentiousness, and romantic rhapsodizing". Despite criticism by sections of academia, Thomas's work has been embraced by readers more so than many of his contemporaries, and is one of the few modern poets whose name is recognised by the general public. In 2009, over 18,000 votes were cast in a BBC poll to find the UK's favourite poet; Thomas was placed 10th. Several of Dylan's poems have passed into the cultural mainstream, and his work has been used by authors, musicians and film and television writers. The long-running BBC Radio programme, 'Desert Island Discs', in which guests usually choose their favourite songs, has heard 50 participants select a Dylan Thomas recording. John Goodby states that this popularity with the reading public allows Thomas's work to be classed as vulgar and common. He also cites that despite a brief period during the 1960's when Thomas was considered a cultural icon, the poet has been marginalized in critical circles due to his exuberance, in both life and work, and his refusal to know his place. Goodby believes that Thomas has been mainly snubbed since the 1970's and has become: "... an embarrassment to twentieth-century poetry criticism", his work failing to fit standard narratives, and thus being ignored rather than studied. Memorials to Dylan Thomas In Swansea's maritime quarter is the Dylan Thomas Theatre, the home of the Swansea Little Theatre of which Thomas was once a member. The former Guildhall built in 1825 is now occupied by the Dylan Thomas Centre, a literature centre, where exhibitions and lectures are held and which is a setting for the annual Dylan Thomas Festival. Outside the centre stands a bronze statue of Thomas by John Doubleday. Another monument to Thomas stands in Cwmdonkin Park, one of Dylan's favourite childhood haunts, close to his birthplace. The memorial is a small rock in an enclosed garden within the park, cut by and inscribed by the late sculptor Ronald Cour with the closing lines from Fern Hill: 'Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means Time held me green and dying Though I sang in my chains like the sea'. Thomas's home in Laugharne, the Boathouse, is now a museum run by Carmarthenshire County Council. Thomas's writing shed is also preserved. In 2004, the Dylan Thomas Prize was created in his honour, awarded to the best published writer in English under the age of 30. In 2005, the Dylan Thomas Screenplay Award was established. The prize, administered by the Dylan Thomas Centre, is awarded at the annual Swansea Bay Film Festival. In 1982 a plaque was unveiled in Poets' Corner, Westminster Abbey. The plaque is also inscribed with the last two lines of 'Fern Hill'. In 2014, the Royal Patron of The Dylan Thomas 100 Festival was Charles, Prince of Wales, who made a recording of 'Fern Hill' for the event. In 2014, to celebrate the centenary of Thomas's birth, the British Council Wales undertook a year-long programme of cultural and educational works. Highlights included a touring replica of Thomas's work shed, Sir Peter Blake's exhibition of illustrations based on 'Under Milk Wood', and a 36-hour marathon of readings, which included Michael Sheen and Sir Ian McKellen performing Thomas's work. Towamensing Trails, Pennsylvania named one of its streets, Thomas Lane, in Dylan's honour. List of Works by Dylan Thomas -- 'The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas: The New Centenary Edition', edited and with Introduction by John Goodby. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2014. -- 'The Notebook Poems 1930–34', edited by Ralph Maud. London: Dent, 1989. -- 'Dylan Thomas: The Film Scripts', edited by John Ackerman. London: Dent 1995. -- 'Dylan Thomas: Early Prose Writings', edited by Walford Davies. London: Dent 1971. -- 'Collected Stories', edited by Walford Davies. London: Dent, 1983. -- 'Under Milk Wood: A Play for Voices', edited by Walford Davies and Ralph Maud. London: Dent, 1995. -- 'On The Air With Dylan Thomas: The Broadcasts', edited by Ralph Maud. New York: New Directions, 1991. Correspondence -- 'Dylan Thomas: The Collected Letters', edited by Paul Ferris (2017), 2 vols. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson Vol I: 1931–1939 Vol II: 1939–1953. -- 'Letters to Vernon Watkins', edited by Vernon Watkins (1957). London: Dent. Posthumous Film Adaptations -- 2016: Dominion, written and directed by Steven Bernstein, examines the final hours of Dylan Thomas. -- 2014: Set Fire to the Stars, with Thomas portrayed by Celyn Jones, and John Brinnin by Elijah Wood. -- 2014: Under Milk Wood BBC, starring Charlotte Church, Tom Jones, Griff Rhys-Jones and Michael Sheen. -- 2014: Interstellar. The poem is featured throughout the film as a recurring theme regarding the perseverance of humanity. -- 2009: A Child's Christmas in Wales, BAFTA Best Short Film. Animation, with soundtrack in Welsh and English. Director: Dave Unwin. Extras include filmed comments from Aeronwy Thomas. -- 2007: Dylan Thomas: A War Films Anthology (DDHE/IWM). -- 1996: Independence Day. Before the attack, the President paraphrases Thomas's "Do not go Gentle Into That Good Night". -- 1992: Rebecca's Daughters, starring Peter O'Toole and Joely Richardson. -- 1987: A Child's Christmas in Wales, directed by Don McBrearty. -- 1972: Under Milk Wood, starring Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, and Peter O'Toole. Opera Adaptation -- 1973: Unter dem Milchwald, by German composer Walter Steffens on his own libretto using Erich Fried's translation of 'Under Milk Wood' into German, Hamburg State Opera. Also at the Staatstheater Kassel in 1977. Final Thoughts From Dylan Thomas "Somebody's boring me. I think it's me." "Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light." "When one burns one's bridges, what a very nice fire it makes." "I think, that if I touched the earth, It would crumble; It is so sad and beautiful, so tremulously like a dream." "An alcoholic is someone you don't like, who drinks as much as you do." "I hold a beast, an angel, and a madman in me, and my enquiry is as to their working, and my problem is their subjugation and victory, down throw and upheaval, and my effort is their self- expression." "The only sea I saw was the seesaw sea with you riding on it. Lie down, lie easy. Let me shipwreck in your thighs." "Why do men think you can pick love up and re-light it like a candle? Women know when love is over." "Poetry is not the most important thing in life. I'd much rather lie in a hot bath reading Agatha Christie and sucking sweets." "And now, gentlemen, like your manners, I must leave you." "My education was the liberty I had to read indiscriminately and all the time, with my eyes hanging out." "I'm a freak user of words, not a poet." "Our discreditable secret is that we don't know anything at all, and our horrid inner secret is that we don't care that we don't." "It snowed last year too: I made a snowman and my brother knocked it down and I knocked my brother down and then we had tea." "Though lovers be lost love shall not." "Man’s wants remain unsatisfied till death. Then, when his soul is naked, is he one with the man in the wind, and the west moon, with the harmonious thunder of the sun." "And books which told me everything about the wasp, except why." "We are not wholly bad or good, who live our lives under Milk Wood." "Love is the last light spoken." "... an ugly, lovely town ... crawling, sprawling ... by the side of a long and splendid curving shore. This sea-town was my world." "I do not need any friends. I prefer enemies. They are better company, and their feelings towards you are always genuine." "This poem has been called obscure. I refuse to believe that it is obscurer than pity, violence, or suffering. But being a poem, not a lifetime, it is more compressed." "One: I am a Welshman; two: I am a drunkard; three: I am a lover of the human race, especially of women." "I believe in New Yorkers. Whether they've ever questioned the dream in which they live, I wouldn't know, because I won't ever dare ask that question." "These poems, with all their crudities, doubts and confusions, are written for the love of man and in praise of God, and I'd be a damn fool if they weren't." "Before you let the sun in, mind he wipes his shoes." "Nothing grows in our garden, only washing. And babies." "Make gentle the life of this world." "A worm tells summer better than the clock, the slug's a living calendar of days; what shall it tell me if a timeless insect says the world wears away?" "Time passes. Listen. Time passes. Come closer now. Only you can hear the houses sleeping in the streets in the slow deep salt and silent black, bandaged night." "Rhianon, he said, hold my hand, Rhianon. She did not hear him, but stood over his bed and fixed him with an unbroken sorrow. Hold my hand, he said, and then: Why are you putting the sheet over my face?" "Come on up, boys - I'm dead." "Life is a terrible thing, thank God."
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