First edition of Dylan Thomas’s : ‘Collected Poems 1934 – 1952’

First edition of Dylan Thomas’s : ‘Collected Poems 1934 – 1952′. Published on 10 November 1952 by Dylan’s usual publishers, Dent of London.

It gathered together all but one poem from his three previous volumes of poetry (’18 Poems’, ‘Twenty Five Poems’ and ‘Deaths and Entrances’), plus a further six written since 1946, to make a total of 90. The poem Dylan left out was ‘Paper and Sticks’, which he disliked.

Dylan explained that the book ‘contains most of the poems I have written, and all, up to the present year, that I wish to preserve. Some of them I have revised a little, but if I went on revising everything that I now do not like in this book I should be so busy that I would have no time to try to write new poems’.

The book won many plaudits: Philip Toynbee wrote in the Observer that Dylan was ‘the greatest living poet’ in English. In the Times, Cyril Connolly said that ‘at his best he is unique, for he distils an exquisite moving quality which defies analysis as supreme lyrical poetry always has’. Thomas was most pleased by Stephen Spender’s review, which he said was ‘the clearest, most considered and sympathetic’. Spender wrote: ‘the romantic characteristic of Dylan Thomas is that his poems contain the minimum material which can be translated into prose. are related to one another within the poem, like the colours of a painting, by the exercise of that sensuous word-choosing faculty of his imagination, which cares more for the feel of words than for their intellectual meanings . . . In this poetry the reader feels very close to what Keats yearned for – a “life of sensations” without opinions and thoughts’.

Quoted in Paul Ferris’s ‘Dylan Thomas’ biography (London: Dent, 1999) page 325.

Collected Poems’ won the prestigious Foyle’s Prize. See DTM 175 – a photograph of Dylan with John Davenport, that was taken after Dylan won the prize.

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