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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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Film, Gramophones and the Noise of Landscape in Dylan Thomas and Lynette Roberts

Film, Gramophones and the Noise of Landscape in Dylan Thomas and Lynette Roberts

(p.138) Chapter 7 Film, Gramophones and the Noise of Landscape in Dylan Thomas and Lynette Roberts
Reading Dylan Thomas

Zoë Skoulding

Edinburgh University Press

In Part II of Lynette Roberts’s Gods with Stainless Ears (1951), a gramophone washed up on the south Wales seashore may be seen in the light of Roberts’s interest in film in a period which had, according to John Cage, seen a new awareness of ‘sound effects’ and a resulting tension between ‘noise and so-called musical sounds’. Roberts wrote in the preface: ‘when I wrote this poem, the scenes and visions ran before me like a newsreel’. However, rather than presenting poetry and film as potentially complementary elements, Gods seems to evoke filmic techniques through its juxtapositions and awareness of environmental sound. The seashore gramophone also echoes an image in Dylan Thomas’s 1935 poem ‘I, in my intricate image’, which in its expansive scope and its densely detailed coastal imagery has several similarities with Roberts’s poem. For both poets, landscape is mediated by awareness of film, and by the approach to environmental sound that film enables. Film’s sensory simultaneity provides a model for locating the lyric and narrative energies of the poems within the landscapes they describe as well as the media landscape of the mid-twentieth century.

Keywords:   Film, Gramophone, Soundscape, Noise, Lynette Roberts, Environment, ‘I in my intricate image’

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