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September 4, 2006 | by  | in Books |
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Dylan Thomas (1914 – 1952)

Born in 1914 in Swansea, Thomas’ career began almost immediately. His father exposed him to poetry at the age of two, and by four had him reciting Shakespeare. Thomas was always fascinated by words: “The first poems I knew were nursery rhymes, and before I could read them for myself I had come to love just the words of them, the words alone.” Dylan went on to write stories (including Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog) and plays (such as his ‘play for voices’ Under Milk Wood, which is currently playing at Downstage) but was always most famous for his poetry (including Deaths and Entrances and The Map of Love). Much has been said by and about Thomas: when asked why he moved to America, Thomas is reported to have said, “to touch the titties of a beautiful blonde starlet and to meet Charlie Chaplin.” Truman Capote described Thomas as “an over-grown baby who’ll destroy every last thing he can get his hands on, including himself.” And, in an article from Time magazine, Thomas is, again, unflatteringly depicted: “When he settles down to guzzle beer, which is most of the time, his incredible yarns tumble over each other in a wild Welsh dithyramb in which truth and fact become hopelessly smothered in boozy invention.” However, despite his lack of social graces, Thomas wrote some undeniably wonderful stuff; as Herbert Read wrote, “one can only pray that this poet will not be forced in any way to surrender the subtle course of his genius.”

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