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PN Review 276
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This article is taken from PN Review 276, Volume 50 Number 4, March - April 2024.

On First Looking into Dylan Thomas – I Andrew McNeillie
‘this strange kind of poet’ — Louis MacNeice

‘To begin at the beginning’, as the Narrator says in Under Milk Wood. If there is such a place or time, surely it must be in adolescence. That at any rate is when I discovered and fell in love with the work of Dylan Thomas, on first looking into his Collected Poems, as if I was Keats (which I certainly wasn’t) and they were Chapman’s Homer. My guess is I was not much more than sixteen, and still a paperboy, which meant I had money in my pocket at the end of the week, money to buy books. So it was [c.1962] and very probably a Saturday afternoon. I can tell you where it was. It was in W.H. Smith’s store on Mostyn Street in Llandudno in North Wales. They kept a poetry shelf in those days, hard as that might be to believe today. That I whittled it away as no one else did was obvious. The same books were there every visit I made and rarely a new one joined them. I also bought T.S. Eliot’s Collected Poems there, and the work of several other poets. Eliot’s mermaids, singing each to each, also sang to me, if they did not care to sing to J. Alfred Prufrock, but it was Thomas who stole my heart.

That copy from Smith’s of Thomas’s Collected Poems 1934–1952 is before me now, more than sixty years on. I can tell you it cost me 18s. There it is, clear to see, on the dustjacket’s inside flap. That was a fair sum ...

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