Anti-Eroticism In The Work Of Dylan Thomas


Dylan Thomas writes often of sexuality, but in some of the most non-glamorizing, non-erotic terms I have ever encountered.  He makes of sex something sometimes mechanical, sometimes bestial, and almost always downright unappealing.

From the first-line-named poem come these lines (note the slant rhymes)…

‘Find meat on bones that soon have none,

and drink in the two milked crags,

the merriest marrow and the dregs

before the ladies’ breasts are hags

and the limbs are torn.”


From another poem (Lament):

“Brandy and ripe in my bright, bass prime,/

no springtailed tom in the red hot town/

with every simmering woman his mouse/

but a hillocky bull in the swelter/

of summer come in his great good time/

to the sultry, biding herds”


From the very long poem, A Winter’s Tale…

“Bird, he was brought low,

burning in the bride bed of love, in the whirl- /

pool at the wanting center, in the folds/

of paradise, in the spun bud of the world./

and she rose with him flowering in her melting snow.”


In I Make This In Warring Absence, Thomas states that “in the groin’s endless coil a man is tangled,” while stating in My World Is A Pyramid that “the loin is glory in a working pallor.


The most “romantic” Thomas gets is when, in one poem, he conjectures that, “if I were tickled by the rub of love” he might become “daft with the drug that’s smoking in a girl.”   Actually, I stand corrected… there is a truly romantic notion contained in the poem, Our Eunuch Dreams (notice even here the sexual malignancy of the title)…  “and who remain shall flower as they love.”


I’d like to end my posts on Dylan Thomas with some of my favorite lines from his works that did not fit into the themes I have so neatly applied to his ouevre…


“Love is the last light spoken.”

— from Ceremony After A Fire Raid


“Prisoners of wishes locked their eyes/

in the jails and studies of his keyless smiles”

— from There Was A Savior


“miraculous virginity old as loaves and fishes.”

     — On The Marriage Of A Virgin…


“the hand that signed the paper felled a city;

five sovereign fingers taxed the breath,

doubled the globe of dead and halved a country;

these five kings did a king to death”

— from The Hand That Signed The Paper…


And lastly, from Was There A Time

     “they who have no arms/ have the cleanest hands”


More posts from Hammering Shield on Dylan Thomas…

The Futile Rebellion Of Dylan Thomas

Dylan Thomas And The Poetry Of Doomed Beginnings

Dylan Thomas On Dylan Thomas

Sound In Structure In The Poetry Of Dylan Thomas

The Failures Of Dylan Thomas



2 thoughts on “Anti-Eroticism In The Work Of Dylan Thomas

  1. I was just googling to be sure to get my quote correct… Suggest you proofread your quote from Lament:

    Dylan Thomas described his hillocky bull as “Brandy and ripe” – typical Dylan wordplay with the obvious subtext of randy…bollocks that is clearly implanted in the reader’s mind. Too successfully in this case!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s