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Gol Mcadam Female, 73, United Kingdom (10/15/2005 7:02:00 AM)

Help! Does anyone know where I can find an analysis or comment on Dylan Thomas 'Refusal to Mourn the Death, by Fire, of a Child in London'? Maybe I'm thick but I can't make much of it without assistance. Thanks.

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  • Rookie - 7 Points Max Reif (10/15/2005 11:04:00 AM) Post reply
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    While we've got the subject up, why NOT 'go gentle into that good night'?

  • Rookie Gol Mcadam (10/15/2005 10:38:00 AM) Post reply

    Thanks for this M & M. Like MS, I thought it might be 'bardic flubber' but, like MR, I was impressed by some of the imagery. I still don't get it - maybe I shouldn't expect to?

  • Rookie - 7 Points Max Reif (10/15/2005 8:38:00 AM) Post reply

    I love the language of the poem, I simply have had difficulty, ever since the poem was taught in my university, digesting the philosophical statement in the last 2 lines. 'and I must enter again the round/ Zion of the water bead/and the synagogue of the ear of corn' is memorable, mystical language, I think, expressing the thought that when we leave our physical forms, we continue to live in everything.

    Also, I feel 'stations of the breath' is magnificent. In fact, Thomas' language all through the poem, to me, compresses so much impact and significance into every word that-well, I love many of Dylan Thomas' poems and I differ with Michael on the main body of this one. (One of the little shocks of my life was to see a picture of Thomas as a young man in Wales, his eyes full of dew and sunrise like an angel, then see him shortly after as the-well, 'worldly alcoholic' he became.)

    I read that he's reacting to journalistic sentimentality about a London girl's death in WW II. He feels somehow that the dignity of a person 'deserves' and demands the person be left free from 'sentimental' mourning.

    I've tried to grasp that for decades. I like 'after the first death there is no other', I mean, it's a leap open to interpretations: We're all now subject to the same human condition, so why mourn the universal?

    Here's what the one critical passage I found in a Google search said (you might search for more Thomas criticism on Google) :

    One of Thomas’s most anthologised pieces, this typifies his stance as a war artist, refusing to be conscripted to the propagandist verities of elegy, but coolly recording the horror. The poem has not been without its critics – it is too equivocal, generalising, lacking in compassion, self-indulgent, and so on – but it is, as Neil Corcoran has noted, an important poem in the Thomas oeuvre, exemplifying the “superior discrimination and scruple” of his mature verse.

  • Rookie Michael Shepherd (10/15/2005 7:35:00 AM) Post reply

    For me, it's close to self-parody of his loose-lipped, alcohol-marinated bardic flubber...trying to keep up with his own rhyme scheme. I'd say that if there is a core of emotion, it's in the last two lines. But there may be a more charitable judgment...great title....

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