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This article is taken from PN Review 160, Volume 31 Number 2, November - December 2004.

Concerns about Dylan Thomas Walford Davies and Ralph Maud

The purpose of this note is to examine the treatment of the text of Dylan Thomas's poetry in two volumes published by New Directions of New York in 2003 to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the poet's death: The Poems of Dylan Thomas and Dylan Thomas: Selected Poems 1934-1952. The latter is a revision of the volume Thomas himself regarded as, and titled, his Collected Poems 1934-1952, published in the United Kingdom by Dent in 1952, a year before his death, and in the United States by New Directions in 1953. The Poems of Dylan Thomas is a revision of the volume edited by Daniel Jones, published by both Dent1 and New Directions in 1971. It is with that volume that we shall start.

Daniel Jones was not, as New Directions tries to suggest on p. 311, a poet, nor, more to the point, was he `uniquely qualified' as an editor of Dylan Thomas's poems. Their lifelong friendship continued as it began, on the level of mischievous schoolboyhood, and Daniel Jones's unique contribution in his editorship of The Poems was to introduce such flippant, throw-away pieces from the letters as `A Letter to My Aunt,' `O Chatterton,' `The Molls,' and `New Quay'. Those squibs compromise the serious integrity of the poems Dylan Thomas included in his Collected Poems 1934-1952, from which volume, let us remember, he chose to omit even `Paper and Sticks'. In one case New Directions themselves back off, silently dropping the piece called `Pub ...


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