THOMAS, DYLAN, (1914-1953, Welsh poet) AUTOGRAPH MANUSCRIPT OF HIS POEM 'THIS SIDE OF THE TRUTH (FOR LLEWELLYN)', [1945]

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Lot 480
THOMAS, DYLAN, (1914-1953, Welsh poet)

Sold for £ 13,750 (US$ 17,416) inc. premium
THOMAS, DYLAN, (1914-1953, Welsh poet)
AUTOGRAPH MANUSCRIPT OF HIS POEM 'THIS SIDE OF THE TRUTH (FOR LLEWELLYN)', 36 lines in three twelve-line stanzas, 1 page, octavo, with the printed wartime notice at foot of the verso 'Writing Paper Is Precious: Please Do Not Waste It', slight creasing [not dated, but February 1945]

This side of the truth
You may not see, my son,
King of your blue eyes
In the blinding country of youth,
That all is undone,
Under the unminding skies,
Of innocence and guilt
Before you move to make
One gesture of the heart or head,
Is gathered and split
Into the winding dark
Like the dust of the dead...

And all your deeds and words,
Each truth, each lie,
Die in unjudging love.

'This Side of The Truth', one of Thomas's best-known poems, represented a trend towards clarity in his middle period - 'one which grows to perfection in "This Side of The Truth" and "In My Craft or Sullen Art", careful poems of Thomas' highest effort.' (Maud, Entrances). Elder Olson considered it one of the two poems in that middle period that were 'more beautiful than most of the earlier ones.' With poems like 'Fern Hill', 'A Refusal to Mourn', and 'Death shall have no dominion', 'This Side of The Truth' was one of his own poems that Thomas most frequently used at public readings.

The poem was first published in Life and Letters Today for July 1945, then shortly after in The New Republic. It was first collected in Deaths and Entrances, 1946, generally regarded as his best book. It was written for his six-year old son Llewellyn, who spent most of the war with his grandmother at Ringwood in Hampshire. It had been reported to Dylan that his son had fallen from a tree and split his lip. He spent much of the afternoon of 26 February writing to Llewellyn. The poem was written shortly after and sent to Vernon Watkins on 28 March 1945. It was a 'piece of disenchanted advice...about the moral indifference of the "unminding" skies'. (Ferris, 1999).

No manuscripts of this poem have been sold at auction. The major collections of Thomas's papers are at Austin, Texas, and the Lockwood Library, Buffalo.

PROVENANCE: Michael Silverman.

REFERENCES: Paul Ferris, Dylan Thomas: A Biography, 1977 and 1999; Ralph Maud, Where Have the Old Words Got Me? Explications of Dylan Thomas's Collected Poems, 2003; Ralph Maud, Entrances to Dylan Thomas' Poetry, 1963; Elder Olson, The Poetry of Dylan Thomas, 1954.
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