Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: June 2012

21 - The Irish Dylan Thomas: versions and influences

Summary

In 2006 a horse named ‘Dylan Thomas’ won the Budweiser Irish Derby at the Curragh in County Kildare. One wonders what the ghost of the Irish poet and dedicated follower of racing form, Patrick Kavanagh, made of that turn-up for the books. Did he place a spectral bet on the favourite, named for a Welsh poet he had once admired for ‘fresh young attitude and vocabulary’, and a poet he had at one time seen as possessed of ‘the blood of life as it is lived’. Did he remember that he had also opined: ‘As far as I am concerned, Auden and Dylan Thomas, Moravia, Sartre, Pound are all Irish poets. They have all said the thing that delighted me, a man born in Ireland’ and put his celestial shirt on Dylan Thomas, whatever the odds (9 to 2, in fact). Or did he recall with bitterness that when he had been introduced to Thomas in London in 1951 (he was hoping for regular work with the BBC, where the Welsh poet was a less than securely ensconced broadcaster, alert one supposes, to a possible rival), Thomas had immediately, to quote Kavanagh's biographer, ‘launched into a broad, offensive imitation of his accent’ causing considerable hurt? If that came to mind in the afterlife, we may perhaps imagine the Mucker poet betting on any horse but Dylan Thomas, the name of a writer whose life and death as broth-of-a-boy, cadger, showman, backer of horses and drunk so resembled that of Dubliner Brendan Behan, whom Kavanagh loathed.

Quinn, A., Patrick Kavanagh: Born-Again Romantic (Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1991), p. 145
Cited Quinn, A., Patrick Kavanagh: A Biography (Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 2001), p. 294
Kavanagh, P., ‘A Goat Tethered Outside the Bailey’, in Quinn, A. (ed.), Patrick Kavanagh: A Poet's Country (Dublin: Lilliput Press, 2003), p. 238
McDonald, P. (ed.), Collected Poems of Louis MacNeice (London: Faber and Faber, 2007), p. 399
MacNeice, L., The Poetry of W.B. Yeats (London, New York and Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1941), p. xviii
Heuser, A. (ed.), Selected Prose of Louis MacNeice (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990), p. 136
Phillips, Ivan, ‘“Death Is All Metaphor”: Dylan Thomas’ Radical Morbidity', in Goodby, J. and Wigginton, C. (eds.), Dylan Thomas: New Casebooks (London: Palgrave, 2001), p. 125
Ferris, P., Dylan Thomas: The Biography, new edn. (Washington, DC: Counterpoint, 2000), p. 156
Ferris, P. (ed.), Dylan Thomas: The Collected Letters, new edn. (London: J. M. Dent, 2000), p. 328
MacNeice, H., ‘The Story of the House That Louis Built’, in Genet, J. and Hellegouarc'h, W. (eds.), Studies on Louis MacNeice (Caen: Publications de l'Université de Caen, 1988), pp. 9–10. The other poet was W. R. Rodgers
MacNeice, L., ‘I Remember Dylan Thomas’, in Heuser, A. (ed.), Selected Literary Criticism of Louis MacNeice (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987), p. 195
Heaney, S., ‘Dylan the Durable? On Dylan Thomas’, in The Redress of Poetry (London and Boston: Faber and Faber, 1995), p. 124
Longley, M., Tuppeny Stung: Autobiographical Chapters (Belfast: Lagan Press, 1994), p. 36
Clark, H., The Ulster Renaissance: Poetry In Belfast 1962–1972 (Oxford University Press, 2006), pp. 20–1
Mahon, D., ‘Introduction’, in Dylan Thomas: Poems Selected by Derek Mahon (London: Faber and Faber, 2004), p. vii