In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

REVIEWS 435 othen; in the book. Too often we are confronted with Professor Broad's opinions instead of logical arguments. Strong feelings accompany these opinions, so that the tone in which they are presented tends to be strident. Even the humour, which elsewhere is so piquant, is here rather heavy-handed. Broad takes a gloomy view of the prospects of civilization. "I do not pretend to think," he says, "that there is more than a slender chance of avoiding a third world war" (p. 27). But no reasons are given for this opinion; and the hopeful possibilities inherent in the existence of the United Nations are not even mentioned in a footnote. One is inclined to think that if a more objective attitude to the problem had been taken, the gloom might not have been so thick. However, in this case, the gloom is located amid the encircling light shed by other parts of Broad's philosophy. DYLAN THOMAS PARAPHRASED* MILLAR MAcLuRE Although this is a small book, it contains a prefatory poem, six chapten; of commentary by Professor Olson, an appendix of prose paraphrases of poems, a glossary, a bibliography (useful but premature ) by William H. Huff, fourteen pages of notes on the commentary , and an index of poems cited, by Mrs. R. S. Crane. The result is infinite messiness in a little room. But I suppose this is to be expected in what is essentially a book of annotations, a key to certain difficulties in the poems of Dylan Thomas. We have been so glutted with the legend of the alcoholic bard, pride of the BBC, wonder of his friends, scourge of the seminan;, glory of the Welsh, that it is a relief to turn to Professor Olson's sober pages, where the poems are considered as artefacts and not as noises, and the reader is not distracted by irrelevant anecdote and fruitless conjecture. Poet and poems stand still here to be examined-too still, perhaps. The "New Critics," whom Professor Olson abominates and cannot help attacking even here (see pp. 61-2), at least treat a poem as if it were alive and might bite them. Professor Olson, unhappily, treats it as if it were a palimpest containing some fragments of a pseudo-Aristotelian treatise on metaphor. This is a technical fault, not an error of taste, for he admires his subject. He praises Thomas's achievement at every turn, takes all the poems seriously, and decides, rather pontifically, that this poet is worthy of transmission to posterity. Furthermore, for the reader who is interested in getting a grip, so to speak, on the poems of Dylan Thomas, this book offen; many helpful *The Poetry of Dylan Thomas. By ELDER OLSON. With a Bibliography by WILLIAM H. HUFF. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press [Toronto : The University of Toronto Press]. 1954. Pp. viii, 164. $3.25. 436 UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO QUARTERLY clues to understanding the language, the structural patterns, and some of the special symbolism of the poems. There are some general critical judgments of real merit scattered through the first five chapters, evidence that Professor Olson could have done an integrated and cogent piece of criticism on Thomas, had he so chosen. Here he has limited himself to producing a primer of categories and a classification of rhetorical devices. It is unfortunate that his tone is so firm, his confidence in his materials so complete, that though he proposes only to be an annotator, he often sounds like a seer. It is clear, besides, that he means his hook to stand or fall on his interpretation of the sonnet sequence beginning "Altarwise by owllight ." These sonnets, which Thomas himself described in his usual gnomic way as "the writings of a hoily boy in love with shapes and shadows on his pillow," are here examined as the turning-point in his poetic progress, and their obscurities explained by reference to a series of astrological positions, which the poet learned about from popular works on the occult lore of the heavens and perhaps also from playing with a star-map or celestial globe. Let me say at once that I regard this account of Thomas's sources, and...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 435-437
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.