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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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Trouble at the Explosive Plant: Ceri Richards and Dylan Thomas

Trouble at the Explosive Plant: Ceri Richards and Dylan Thomas

(p.157) Chapter 8 Trouble at the Explosive Plant: Ceri Richards and Dylan Thomas
Reading Dylan Thomas

Leo Mellor

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter analyses Thomas’s Second World War poetry within a comparative context; it reads it alongside – and also through – the art of Ceri Richards, another individual who combined a Swansea-lineage, some European aesthetic influences, and a compulsive – if horrified – fascination with beauty-in-destruction. The wartime works of both Richards and Thomas repeatedly return to representations of the organic as a way of capturing moments of intense violence. In doing so, they raise a number of vital questions. If these works aim to capture the incendiary horrors and transformative energy of the moment when all is in flux, how can they do this using the organic? If a violent moment is knowable through a version of the natural world, how then is destruction changed? What other kinds of temporalities are imported into such a ‘timeless second’ – to use William Sansom’s phrase? And, concomitantly, how is the idea of nature and the natural changed if it is being utilised to portray blast and terror? The chapter proceeds through close analysis of a number of Thomas’s wartime poems – including ‘Deaths and Entrances’ and ‘A Refusal to Mourn’ – and sets them alongside art works by Richards such as Blossoms (1940) and Cycle of Nature (1944).

Keywords:   Ceri Richards, Lithograph, Organicism, Deaths and Entrances, War

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