Thomas returns again and again to a theme of the unity and holiness of all existence. He is in the tradition of Blake, Wordsworth and Whitman. But he is not there all the time. There is conflict. And so we have lines like this one.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
If it is a “good night” then it is something to be desired. Have a “good night” is something we wish for our friends. So why should we “rage” against the “dying of the light”?
And so there is ambivalence here. Perhaps there are moments of clarity for Thomas when he sees the unity of all things. But then he loses his vision and falls into a slumber or alcohol intoxication.
But Thomas was direct in his poetry. He was blunt, forthright and full of explosive feeling. He was an entertainer and did his poetry much good by traveling throughout the US several times and reciting it. If he was a blogger he would understand how to reach the feeds of many readers.
His poetry is full of images that suited the age to which he belonged.
“The force that through the green fuse drives the flower” brings to my mind the image of an atomic blast which was so shockingly present during that time. “Light breaks where no sun shines” does the same thing. His metaphors are rich and complex. He illustrates a world of driving forces, resistance and explosions. Do flowers and atomic clouds seem antithetical to you? Remember the little girl who picked daisies in that famous commercial the Johnson team used against Barry Goldwater? If they can be used in an election ad they certainly can become part of a poem.
Dylan Thomas was perhaps not a great poet. It is difficult to pin down his meanings. But he was definitely the poet for his times. And it is not surprising that he burned himself up at an early age like so many flamboyant entertainers a decade or two later.
It is rumored that Bob Dylan changed his name because of his admiration for Dylan Thomas.