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A Letter To My Aunt Analysis

Author: poem of Dylan Thomas Type: poem Views: 12

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A Letter To My Aunt Discussing The Correct Approach To Modern Poetry

To you, my aunt, who would explore

The literary Chankley Bore,

The paths are hard, for you are not

A literary Hottentot

But just a kind and cultured dame

Who knows not Eliot (to her shame).

Fie on you, aunt, that you should see

No genius in David G.,

No elemental form and sound

In T.S.E. and Ezra Pound.

Fie on you, aunt! I'll show you how

To elevate your middle brow,

And how to scale and see the sights

From modernist Parnassian heights.

First buy a hat, no Paris model

But one the Swiss wear when they yodel,

A bowler thing with one or two

Feathers to conceal the view;

And then in sandals walk the street

(All modern painters use their feet

For painting, on their canvas strips,

Their wives or mothers, minus hips).

Perhaps it would be best if you

Created something very new,

A dirty novel done in Erse

Or written backwards in Welsh verse,

Or paintings on the backs of vests,

Or Sanskrit psalms on lepers' chests.

But if this proved imposs-i-ble

Perhaps it would be just as well,

For you could then write what you please,

And modern verse is done with ease.

Do not forget that 'limpet' rhymes

With 'strumpet' in these troubled times,

And commas are the worst of crimes;

Few understand the works of Cummings,

And few James Joyce's mental slummings,

And few young Auden's coded chatter;

But then it is the few that matter.

Never be lucid, never state,

If you would be regarded great,

The simplest thought or sentiment,

(For thought, we know, is decadent);

Never omit such vital words

As belly, genitals and -----,

For these are things that play a part

(And what a part) in all good art.

Remember this: each rose is wormy,

And every lovely woman's germy;

Remember this: that love depends

On how the Gallic letter bends;

Remember, too, that life is hell

And even heaven has a smell

Of putrefying angels who

Make deadly whoopee in the blue.

These things remembered, what can stop

A poet going to the top?

A final word: before you start

The convulsions of your art,

Remove your brains, take out your heart;

Minus these curses, you can be

A genius like David G.

Take courage, aunt, and send your stuff

To Geoffrey Grigson with my luff,

And may I yet live to admire

How well your poems light the fire.

(Unknown Book)


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