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This report is taken from PN Review 157, Volume 30 Number 5, May - June 2004.

Letter from Wales Sam Adams

To adapt his namesake R.S., there was, as predicted, a deal of `picking the carcase' of an old poet before midnight bells brought 2003 and celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of Dylan Thomas's death to a suitably sodden end. One might have expected it to be the occasion of sober revaluation of Thomas's art and assessment of his place in twentieth century literature. Nothing of the sort came to my attention. The tawdriness transfiguring almost everything touched by the press these days is epitomised by a crop of newspaper headlines that caught my eye in October and November. The Western Mail gave its readers `Dylan Thomas tricks BBC from the grave' - about the careless inclusion in a BBC Wales radio tribute of a poem, `His Requiem', that Thomas filched from the Boys' Own and passed off as his in the same Western Mail in 1927; `How Dylan's life and wealth were hijacked', allegedly by unscrupulous, unsympathetic and even criminal trustees of the Thomas estate, and the response the following day from Thomas's biographer Paul Ferris, `Why Dylan trustees don't deserve to be labelled villains'. The Guardian did its bit for literature with `Dylan Thomas's granddad was a model of lust' and `The cut-price Dionysiac'. The latter headed one of Hywel Williams's viciously acerbic essays that did have a few words to spare for the poetry, although one could hardly consider them balanced: `His poems, in all their babbling weariness, try to recover a baby's view of the world. ...


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