Dylan Thomas

(27 October 1914 – 9 November 1953 / Swansea / Wales)

A Letter To My Aunt - Poem by Dylan Thomas

A Letter To My Aunt Discussing The Correct Approach To Modern Poetry

To you, my aunt, who would explore
The literary Chankley Bore,
The paths are hard, for you are not
A literary Hottentot
But just a kind and cultured dame
Who knows not Eliot (to her shame).
Fie on you, aunt, that you should see
No genius in David G.,
No elemental form and sound
In T.S.E. and Ezra Pound.
Fie on you, aunt! I'll show you how
To elevate your middle brow,
And how to scale and see the sights
From modernist Parnassian heights.

First buy a hat, no Paris model
But one the Swiss wear when they yodel,
A bowler thing with one or two
Feathers to conceal the view;
And then in sandals walk the street
(All modern painters use their feet
For painting, on their canvas strips,
Their wives or mothers, minus hips).

Perhaps it would be best if you
Created something very new,
A dirty novel done in Erse
Or written backwards in Welsh verse,
Or paintings on the backs of vests,
Or Sanskrit psalms on lepers' chests.
But if this proved imposs-i-ble
Perhaps it would be just as well,
For you could then write what you please,
And modern verse is done with ease.

Do not forget that 'limpet' rhymes
With 'strumpet' in these troubled times,
And commas are the worst of crimes;
Few understand the works of Cummings,
And few James Joyce's mental slummings,
And few young Auden's coded chatter;
But then it is the few that matter.
Never be lucid, never state,
If you would be regarded great,
The simplest thought or sentiment,
(For thought, we know, is decadent);
Never omit such vital words
As belly, genitals and -----,
For these are things that play a part
(And what a part) in all good art.
Remember this: each rose is wormy,
And every lovely woman's germy;
Remember this: that love depends
On how the Gallic letter bends;
Remember, too, that life is hell
And even heaven has a smell
Of putrefying angels who
Make deadly whoopee in the blue.
These things remembered, what can stop
A poet going to the top?

A final word: before you start
The convulsions of your art,
Remove your brains, take out your heart;
Minus these curses, you can be
A genius like David G.

Take courage, aunt, and send your stuff
To Geoffrey Grigson with my luff,
And may I yet live to admire
How well your poems light the fire.

Comments about A Letter To My Aunt by Dylan Thomas

  • (11/29/2016 4:46:00 PM)

    **Really makes ya think. (Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Soumita Sarkar (1/4/2016 10:45:00 AM)

    My..my..what a poem telling what modern poetry n verse is not and what it has...Bravo! ! ! (Report)Reply

    4 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Susan Williams (12/23/2015 2:43:00 PM)

    What a delightful wry verse that sets me to chuckling at his rapier wit (Report)Reply

    22 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Panmelys Panmelys (1/30/2015 12:27:00 PM)

    It's in answer to her nagging, and saying, but no-one understands your poems, at least mine are understood
    begging him to send them in to his publisher. Panmelys It's obviously not meant as a great poem, but to show what
    many poets think are good poems. So I've rated it in the sense of humor and dexterity, the very fact of being able to
    write mediocre poetry is a work of are.

    3 person liked.
    2 person did not like.
  • Brian Jani (4/26/2014 1:19:00 AM)

    Awesome I like this poem, check mine oit (Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
    5 person did not like.
  • Heather Wilkins (9/27/2013 2:37:00 PM)

    excellent verse. the last stanza nice finish (Report)Reply

    3 person liked.
    4 person did not like.
  • (6/1/2010 12:47:00 PM)

    outstanding i love a verse that rhymes..... (Report)Reply

    5 person liked.
    6 person did not like.
  • (1/1/2010 3:44:00 PM)

    Thomas takes the mickey with this one so blatantly that one is hard pressed to find a wordsmith with more rancour for the craft of fellow poets unless they conform to some predetermined standard of which Thomas approves.
    Nonetheless, a fitting end in this poem suggests to me that this is where most contemporary poetry belongs - inspiring of some fireborne thoughts.

    8 person liked.
    3 person did not like.
  • (11/21/2009 7:16:00 PM)

    Very beautifully rendered work. mandara (Report)Reply

    9 person liked.
    2 person did not like.
  • (4/7/2005 4:34:00 PM)

    who thinks she is poet and then tells her to be more outright with her thouths even if she was he knows the paper sheets she writes her poems? on will warm him when he throws them on the the flames on the fire. (Report)Reply

    3 person liked.
    8 person did not like.
Read all 10 comments »

Robert Frost

The Road Not Taken

Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Read poems about / on: remember, paris, courage, poetry, woman, rose, fire, heaven, light, culture, women, work, angel

Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003

[Report Error]