D. M. Thomas Critical Essays


(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Thomas, D(onald) M(ichael) 1935–

Thomas is a British poet, editor, critic, and translator who is known for his early science fiction poetry. He has broadened his range of topics, although he focuses on what he considers to be core subjects, sex and death. (See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 61-64.)

Michael Mott

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Two Voices by D. M. Thomas is at least two collections in one. The confusion is made the worse by the intrusive cover-photographs, clichés of the 1930's avant garde, which would be plain ugly in any period.

The long science-fiction poems in the early part of the book have a sort of ghost-written effect, but the interest comes and goes. Things improve with a number of shorter poems like The Head-Rape, a horror poem, but at least a convincing one, still in the science-fiction genre, and Wolfbane, which ends in a masterly fashion, with the mind of the witchgirl "under him / turned away / loping / into snowy / darkness".

But it is the Requiem for...

(The entire section is 187 words.)

Alan Brownjohn

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Love and Other Deaths: you can take the choice. I don't feel that D. M. Thomas, a poet of ranging and fertile imagination, has yet settled for what he really wants, but at least [this] largish collection provides plenty to choose from. I'll take, not the sci-fi verse or mythological excursions which blend with it, but those compassionate, discerning, well-made poems 'of death and loss' which are closer to his personal concerns; especially 'Dream', and 'Reticent', about the gentle power of understatement on the lips of his dead parents. 'Dream' allows Thomas to use an experimental, disjointed form to excellent effect without dispersing the emotion in gimmickry; it is absolutely unforced, true and moving. (p....

(The entire section is 128 words.)

Alasdair Maclean

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

D. M. Thomas has divided [Love and Other Deaths] into parts. The first contains more or less traditional poems dealing with family deaths. Often moving and sometimes quite good as well, they partly redeem the horror that comes after. Even here,… obligatory modishness creeps in with its spoiling hand. In "Dream", for example, we get a reference to "my woman", a phrase that has come to rank almost with the ampersand as a species marker. But "my woman" is phoney working-class realism, a doubtful memory of a vanished solidarity. And what follows shows the author in familiar vein, boldly going where fifty thousand little magazine contributors have gone before. British "experimental" poetry, in other words, with...

(The entire section is 162 words.)

John Matthias

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

There are always plenty of paramours in D. M. Thomas's work, and one must respect, if even at a certain hesitant distance, his nervous, experimental, and erotic muse…. Thomas is at it again [in Love and Other Deaths], what with three erotic sequences here, one based on the I Ching, another on the figure of Eve's apocryphal rival, Lilith, and the third on what he calls "a central contemporary myth: the kidnapping of a diplomat by extremists." I'm afraid I'm not very enthusiastic about any of them. It sometimes looks, especially in the case of poor Lil, as if Crazy Jane had been knocked up by Hughes's Crow, the unlikely issue having been midwifed by Nathaniel Tarn's Bride of God and Brother Antoninus...

(The entire section is 294 words.)

Peter Scupham

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The mysterious privacy to be found in [the various landscapes of The Honeymoon Voyage] is one the poet shares with those divine and human presences who, whether rooted or in exile, define the numen of their homes and in collusion with their recorder allow the reader to participate in their own myths. In this sense Thomas is one of the least egocentric of writers, concerned to feel his way through self-effacements into the disturbing otherness of worlds where ancestral voices speak in their allusive tongues while he holds seance….

The title poem sends the collection into a new direction, and possibly the least successful one. From our homes we make voyages into death and pain; the traverse is...

(The entire section is 262 words.)