Poem in October

by Dylan Thomas

Start Free Trial

What qualities identify "Poem in October" by Dylan Thomas as a work of the New Apocalypse movement?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The identifying characteristics of the British, Scottish, and Welsh New Apocalypse poets of the 1930s and 1940s are:
1.  an influence of Surrealism and Romanticism.
2.  mythological and prophetic motifs.
3.  conviction of the collapse of European civilization.
4.  an anti-political stance in opposition to such Oxford University based poets as W. H. Auden.
5.  rejection of adherence to social and literary tenets.
6.  a mythopoeic influence from Blake and Yeats.

Thomas Dylan's poem "Poem in October" expresses several of these identifying characteristics. The opening lines express an influence from Surrealism:

It was my thirtieth year to heaven
Woke to my hearing from harbour and neighbour wood
And the mussel pooled and the heron
Priested shore

The next lines express an influence from Romanticism:

The morning beckon
With water praying and call of seagull and rook
And the knock of sailing boats on the webbed wall

The ending lines of the poem clearly express the conviction that European civilization is bound for doom and destruction:

It was my thirtieth
Year to heaven stood there then in the summer noon
Though the town below lay leaved with October blood.

Thomas also expresses the hope that he may, in some unidentified way--unless he infers that the way is though an intimate association with nature--be above the destruction and thereby escape it;

O may my heart's truth
Still be sung
On this high hill in a year's turning.

This poem seems to have no anti-political stance to espouse although there seems to be mythopoeic references in Stanzas five and six:

Stanza five:

Through the parables
Of sunlight
And the legends of the green chapels

Stanza six:

And the mystery
Sang alive
Still in the water and singing birds.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team