The Poetry of Personality

The Poetry of Personality : The Poetic Diction of Dylan Thomas

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Even lovers of Dylan Thomas's poems are often puzzled by his habits of language, which sometimes take the form of unusual diction and unique perceptions. This study, on the hundredth anniversary of his birth, is a must-read for both Thomas's fans and newcomers interested in an introduction to his works and the unique sensibility that created them. Chapters are devoted to his poetic perspectives, ranging from the microscopic to the cosmic; his unusual perceptions of the world, which some critics have described as those of an almost altered reality; his diction, or working vocabulary; his penchant for refurbishing cliches; his hilarious sense of humor and linguistic playfulness; his development as a poet; and his concern for sound, often resulting in a lofty, at times Biblical, though secular, tone. In summary, the study fully explores the heart and mind behind the poems, and shows why his work will always remain in the top rank of English poetry.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 126 pages
  • 154.94 x 231.14 x 15.24mm | 340.19g
  • Lexington Books
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • 0739192981
  • 9780739192986

Review quote

A poet himself, Greenway points out in his introduction that Thomas (1914-1953) is known for his difficulty and his sonority and that his poetic diction has long been 'a source of critical debate.' Throughout this analysis/appreciation of Thomas's work, Greenway focuses on the tension between the simplicity of his vocabulary and the 'difficulty' of his poetry. Taking a human approach to Thomas's life, personality, and technique-with full recognition of the mountain of critical attention on Thomas's modest poetic output-Greenway demonstrates how knowing Thomas's life story helps one understand the diction of his poetry. Against the charge of eccentricity, the author discusses Thomas's unusual perspectives and his use of irony, paradox, and other linguistic forms. Thomas's unique concern with sound prompts Greenway to closely study Thomas's vocabulary and syntax, demonstrating how the poetry imitates the natural world. He also examines Thomas's poetic diction in conjunction with Welsh culture and language. Greenway clearly agrees with Robert Lowell, who wrote that '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.'...Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. CHOICE When I first encountered the poetry of Dylan Thomas in 1955, I was twenty years old and a junior in college. Thomas's poetry has been a consistent and salutary staple in my literary diet from that point forward. Not until I completed and absorbed William Greenway's study, however, have I felt that I truly managed to meet Thomas on the only terms that make sense-his own. If you read Dylan Thomas: The Poetry of Personality as carefully and creatively as Greenway tells you to read Dylan Thomas's poetry, then you won't have any trouble understanding and relishing both poets, and you will sing in your chains like the sea. -- Dale H. Edmonds, Tulane University William Greenway, an award-winning poet and literary scholar of Welsh descent, has the perfect credentials to investigate the poetry of Dylan Thomas. In Greenway's convincing study of Thomas as 'an adorer of words,' he offers even the reader skeptical of the poet's achievements a clear and elegant entry into Thomas's work, however dazzling and knotty the poem. -- Elton Glaser, University of Akron
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About William Greenway

William Greenway is professor of English at Youngstown State University.
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Table of contents

Table of Contents Introduction Chapter 1: "The Flesh's Vision": The Poetic Perspectives of Dylan Thomas Chapter 2: "The Churning Bulk of Words" Chapter 3: The Sound of Shape Chapter 4: "To Wales in My Arms": Dylan Thomas's Celtic Debt Chapter 5: "The Flood Flowers Now" Chapter 6: The Once and Future Dylan: The Recent Criticism Bibliography
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