Monday, 27 October 2008
News from Cwmdonkin Drive
The 94th birthday of the great Welsh windbag, Dylan Thomas - and to mark the occasion, his childhood home has been restored and reopened as a time capsule holiday rental, presumably aimed at hard-core fans.
Talking about the project this morning, Geoff Haden described Thomas as 'the most famous poet Great Britain produced in the 20th century'. I suppose this might have been true when Dylan was at the height of his celebrity, seeming to be the very embodiment of The Poet, with his rackety ways, his boozing, his grand manner and chocolate-brown voice ('like water pouring into a vaseline bathtub,' to borrow a wholly un-Thomas-related phrase of Kenneth Koch's). His fame is less now, his critical stock lower, but his popular appeal seems to endure, while better poets (even better Welsh poets) of his generation are forgotten. Why is this? I fear because he still, to some ways of thinking, seems to embody The Poet. If you like your poetry laid on with a trowel, Dylan is your man - that windy bardic utterance, relentlessly sexed up with thick impasti of alliteration and assonance, stretched wildly out of shape by its eye-rolling, exalted urgency. The result is a great rich indigestible pudding, with everything thrown into the mix and stirred with vein-bursting frenzy. Dylan is, stylistically and in almost every other respect, the very opposite of Wales's other Thomas poets - Edward (half Welsh) and R.S. I know which I would sooner read, and happily neither has a cult - or a holiday let.