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Biplob Prodhan
  • 2 months ago
  • 79
Discuss the use of imagery in the poetry of Dylan Thomas with special reference to “Poem in October”.

Ans. Dylan Thomas attached great importance to the use of imagery in his poetry. As he was a poet of both of the sea and the woods, the common scenes and sights of the countryside, the various objects and phenomena of nature are the most important sources of imagery in his poetry. Besides these, images of pain, disease, decay and death, as well as sexual imagery are frequent in his poetry.

On waking up early in the morning the poet witnesses the natural phenomena in a mood of almost religious joy. He feels that everything belongs to him, and that everything is being done for his sake. He finds all nature holy. The herons sitting on the shore seem to him to be priests, praying for him, the waves of the ocean rising high, the calling of the seagull coming from the shore and that of the rooks from the wood seem to awaken the poet from sleep and pray for him. Thus the first stanza of the poem offers us a beautiful picture of the dawn around the harbour, the neighbouring wood, the fish in the pools of water, the herons sitting on the shore, the seagull and the rook calling, the boats sailing on the water.

In the second stanza there is a fantastic picture of waterbirds and the birds flying over the trees, the creatures who seem to be aware of the poet’s birthday and they also seem to be celebrating the occasion by flying over the farms and over the while coloured horses, proclaiming his name. In the third stanza the poet says that the presence of larks flying over the hill indicates that spring is approaching after the autumn, and again the October sun is warm and seems to lend a touch of summer to the season. On the hill the confusion of seasons indicates the schizoid’s inability to distinguish between one thing and another. He lives and moves in a world of fantasy where time, past and present, places, near distant, climates and seasons, all mingle in a lovely confusion.

In the fourth stanza we come across the picture of the distant church which looks to the poet as small as a snail. The towers of the church are its horns as it has been likened to a snail. In the fifth stanza the phrase “Green chapels” gives us a richly sensuous picture.. In a vision the poet sees “Fern Hill” where was situated the farm of his aunt, where child Thomas spent his happy childhood like a lord moving about in a country of apples, pears and currants. Finally referring to the image of “summer noon” the poet says that though he still stands in the “summer noon” of childhood, he is aware of the town below, “leaved with October blood’-of trees and of his October heart, which sings this truth. “October blood” refers to the red- coloured autumnal leaves which have fallen down from the trees.

To sum up, Thomas’s imagery is not decorative, it is functional. It serves to impart formal and structural unity in his poems, and the recurrence of certain image-patterns help us to understand his meaning. It is true that his images are often exaggerated and obscure but all the same it is fascinating.

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Biplob Prodhan
Biplob Prodhan Founder & Director EDNOUB Foundation Ednoub Private Program

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