I have been reading his "Collected Poems". He is obviously amazing, but I find him one of the most difficult to understand. From what I've read about him online, he supposedly imitates the romantics, however, I don't see it. Can anyone help me to understand his work? I know that's a very vague question, but opinion or experience you have with his work would help me.
There is some good info. here:
I too find him uneven. What else can one do but accept what can be understood today, then revisit him in later years to see what may be clearer at that date? Yeah, we can read critiques by others, but that is usually unsatisfying, at least for me.
Talia -I think the problems you may have understanding Thomas may be him, not you. I think the unevenness Hugh refers to is caused by Thomas being a driven poet in his youth - when unknown and trying to make a living and write - but then finding it difficult to cope with producing poetry and being a poet continuously when well known. I think that being expected to produce high quality poetry as a full-time career didn't suit him, and he lost his capacity to critcise and self-censor his work in the pressure of deadlines and what was expected of him. He always produced some brilliant poetry (Under MIlk Wood is amazing and very easy to understand - and most of his work is easier if you hear rather than read it - but it has to be read by a Welshman - preferably Thomas himself or Richard Burton) but not enough, so there's a lot of mediocre and very obscure stuff in there, too and he used various 'tricks' to churn out 'Dylan Thomas poetry' - like cutting up words and juggling with the bits to make new ones, where they would occur to him naturally in earlier life . This sort of problem with fame is not an uncommon phenomenon - people like Tony Hancock and the composer Havergal Brian had similar difficulties.
One thing to be said for being a poet in say, Chaucer's time is that you wouldn't do it all the time, just write when you had something to say - and work at the day job the rest of the time, or be a gentleman like Walter Raleigh - it was just one of many occupations/talents. There's also the advantage of being censored over the centuries - when paper and printing were very expensive and difficult, only a poet's best work was printed and if it sold enough and was loved, that is what has survived, I think we now suffer from a lot of mediocre stuff because the poet, artist or writer has to be commercial and sustain a market , printing is cheap so - a few well-spaced brilliant works will not be as acceptable as prolonged mediocrity, or even brilliance punctuated by fairly poor work, most things go as long as a momentum is sustained.