Saturday, 5 March 2016

The Use of Symbolism in the Poetry of Dylan Thomas

Dylan Thomas makes extensive use of natural conventional and prvate symbols to convey complex psychological states to his readers. He draws symbols from different branches of sciences, philosohies, myths, legends, literature, history, occult knowledge, bible etc.


‘Poem in October’ contains various types of symbols. In the beginning of the poem the poet finds a heron on the shore. To him the heron becomes a symbol of sacredness and is regarded as a priest sitting on the seashore. The waves of the ocean rising high seem to the poet a kind of prayer to heaven on the occasion of his birthday the call of the seagull coming from the shore the crowing of the rooks from the wood and the knock of the sailing boats near the harbor overhung with fishermen’s nets symbolize an invitation to the poet to wake up and come out to enjoy the beauty of nature. The ‘Winged Trees’ symbolize the poem in which the poet celebrates his birthday. ‘water birds and birds of the winged trees flying my name’ here birds flying over the farms and white horses seem to celebrate his birthday by proclaiming his name.

The word ‘dylan’ in English means ‘high tide’ and so the birds may simply be flying the waves which are rising high. The line may simply be the fantasy of the schizoid individual or it may refer to the present poem in which Dylan celebrates his birthday or it may be merely the high tides which to the poets imagination seem to be flying so high on the wings of  the bird. ‘the white horses’ symbolizes something highly desirable. ‘And I rose in rainy autumn’ signifies that the poet was born in October which is a month of autumn.

Further the ‘tall tales’ symbolizes imagination and fancy while ‘The Gardens of Spring and Summer’ stand for the beautiful glorious world as re-created by the imagination of the poet. ‘the weather turned around’ signifies the fact that his escape into the fantasy world of boyhood was short-lived. The phrase ‘the other air’ symbolizes the vision and memory of childhood. ‘parables’  and ‘legends’ stand for the wonders and glorious visions of childhood.

To sum up dylan’s symbols are complex and many sided. Most of them are not universal but private symbols devised by Dylan for his own.

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