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Reading Dylan Thomas$
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Edward Allen

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781474411554

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474411554.001.0001

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Dylan Thomas: ‘On out of sound’

Dylan Thomas: ‘On out of sound’

(p.71) Chapter 4 Dylan Thomas: ‘On out of sound’
Reading Dylan Thomas

Peter Robinson

Edinburgh University Press

In 1936, Bernard Spencer reviewed Twenty-Five Poems: ‘These poems strike one immediately because of their resonance (sometimes their rhythm is monotonous), their swirl of vigorous images, and, even before they are understood, their flavour of psychology and metaphysics’. The reviewer then added that they ‘divide more or less clearly into sense and nonsense-poems’. ‘The hunchback in the park’ is such a ‘sense’ poem, unusually straightforward and quotidian in its setting, yet it too has ‘resonance’ and ‘swirl’ and a ‘flavour of psychology and metaphysics’. This chapter first reflects on the May 1932 draft of the poem in the Notebooks, identifying weaknesses in it that would be addressed in the July 1941 rewriting; after exploring the character and action of that rewriting process, the chapter goes on to relate it to Thomas’s contextualizing of the poem in the radio broadcast ‘Reminiscences of Childhood’ (1943) and in his correspondence. The chapter concludes with a discussion of Thomas’s composition of ‘The hunchback in the park’ in light of W. H. Auden’s criticism of the poet as reviser in ‘Squares and Oblongs’ (1948).

Keywords:   ‘The hunchback in the park’, ‘Reminiscences of Childhood’, Sense, Revision, Notebooks, W. H. Auden

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