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This review is taken from PN Review 222, Volume 41 Number 4, March - April 2015.

From Process to Parton The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas, edited by John Goodby (The New Centenary Edition, Weidenfield & Nicolson) £9.99 pb
david gascoyne, New Collected Poems, edited by Roger Scott (Enitharmon Press) £25 hb

In his critical appraisal of the poetry of Dylan Thomas, Under the Spelling Wall (reviewed in PN Review 216), John Goodby had highlighted the importance of the mathematician and philosopher Alfred North Whitehead, who would have been read by the young Dylan Thomas: ‘In fact, Thomas’s ideas match White­head’s in so many ways that it is unlikely that his use of “process” was innocent of its scientific significance’. The poem to which Goodby was referring is ‘A process in the weather of the heart’ which was first published in the Sunday Referee in February 1934. The poem opens in an unmistakable style:

A process in the weather of the heart
Turns damp to dry; the golden shot
Storms in the freezing tomb.
A weather in the quarter of the veins
Turns night to day; blood in their suns
Lights up the living worm.

Whitehead, of course, is notable for the influence he had on Charles Olson, who recommended the young Edward Dorn to read Process and Reality: An Essay in Cosmology (‘A Bibliography on America for Ed Dorn’). In this context it is entirely appropriate that the Thomas poem, one from the Fourth Notebook edited by Ralph Maud, should attract the following comment from the Olson scholar who also edited Carcanet’s A Charles Olson Reader: ‘The themes we chiefly find in the two later Notebooks, faith vs despair, love vs sexual waste, waking action vs dream world, can all be ...

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