Rexroth on Dylan Thomas’ “Eighteen Poems”

April 2, 2017

This was published in December 1934, a month after his twentieth birthday. Rexroth described it has having smitten the Philistines a great blow, or similar. I was always deeply impressed by the instinctive originality of Dylan Thomas, and by the fact that between the ages of about sixteen and nineteen he forged his own paradigm shift from bad stuff turned out by a schoolboy to startling and lasting originality. No one can honestly deny the impact and originality of ECE and ECE2 theory, based as it is on very simple equations that cannot be refuted in an honest way. It has smitten the Philistines and dogmatists a great blow. They reel like drunken trolls.”

Is that the Rexroth who was the son of a drunkard and was accused of running a brothel? Is that the cowardly Rexroth who dodged military service, wrote obscene poetry and impersonated a Japanese woman in order to get noticed? Did Dylan’s poetry change at that time because that was when he became old enough to sneak into public houses? One can quite see why the dirty-minded son of a drunk would admire a foul-mouthed alcoholic like Thomas. Artists and pseudoscientists are very much the same; they prop each other up  … like Eliot’s hollow men. Oooh look, a literary reference. We must be fully-rounded renaissance people.


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