Poetry After the First Date

We have these ideas in our heads of what authors are based on small snippets of their corpora.

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I think one of the really strange pleasures/frustrations of literary study is reading more of an author’s corpus. At the moment, I’m thinking of Dylan Thomas and W. H. Auden.

Of the former, I had initially read “Do not go gentle into that good night” and “And death shall have no dominion”, his two most popular poems. Of the latter, I had sought out “The Shield of Achilles”, “Musée des Beaux Arts”, “In Memory of W. B. Yeats”. And honestly, I disliked all five poems quite a bit, with Thomas seeming stilted and Auden seeming forced.

As I read more Auden, however, I became deeply enamoured with his deep sensuality and his sensitivity to emotion, politics, and forces beyond our control. More recently, as I’ve read more Thomas, I’ve been surprised at how almost nonsensical his poetry is, how devilishly sly its twists and turns tend to be, and how truly difficult a time I’m having trying to make any headway through it.

We have these ideas in our heads of what authors are based on small snippets of their corpora. To have those ideas challenged is not always pleasant, but it is often rewarding.

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