Discuss the symbols used in the poems of Dylan Thomas

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Poem in October is a notable literary work by Dylan Thomas. A complete discussion of this literary work is given, which will help you enhance your literary skills and prepare for the exam. Read the main text, key info, Summary, Themes, Characters, Literary Devices, Quotations, Notes, to various questions of Poem in October.


Discuss the symbols used in the poems of Dylan Thomas.

A symbol is a mark, sign, or word that signifies an idea, object, or relationship. Dylan Thomas (1914-1953) uses symbols to attach great importance to his poetry. We will now keenly observe Dylan Thomas’s symbolism in his famous poems.  

Symbols in Poem in October: Poem in October contains various types of symbols. At the beginning of the poem, the poet finds a heron on the shore. To him, the heron becomes a symbol of sacredness and is regarded as a priest sitting on the seashore. The Winged Trees symbolize the poem in which the poet celebrates his birthday. 

The waves of the ocean rising high seem to the poet a prayer to heaven on the occasion of his birthday. The call of the seagull coming from the shore, the crowing of the rooks from the wood and the knock of the sailing boats near the harbour symbolize an invitation to the poet to wake up and come out to enjoy the beauty of nature. 

The word Dylan in English means high tide,’ so the birds may simply be flying the waves that are rising high. The white horse symbolizes something highly desirable. The morning symbolizes a fresh start, renewal, and the beginning of the poet’s birthday. It represents awakening the poet’s consciousness to the world around him.

“And I rose
In a rainy autumn
And walked abroad in shower of all my days.”

The morning is a time of self-discovery and reflection for the poet as he contemplates the passage of time.

Symbols in Fern Hill: Fern Hill is a simple poem by Thomas. Here, Dylan Thomas uses very few Symbols. Adam and maiden symbolizes the wonderful state of innocent childhood or boyhood. The expression lamb white days also symbolizes innocence, purity, and freedom from all wickedness. The closing two lines symbolize the anxieties and the responsibilities that maturity brings with it and which chain the growing boy. 

The sea is a recurring symbol in Dylan Thomas’s works and plays a significant role in this poem. In “Poem in October,” the sea represents the eternal and the endless. It is described as “gargling” and “rolling,” suggesting both the rhythmic and timeless quality of the sea. The sea also serves as a metaphor for memory. 

It contains the speaker’s past experiences and emotions, which continue to resonate within him. The sea here takes on a sacred quality, suggesting the cyclical nature of existence and the passing of time.

“And the sabbath rang slowly
In the pebbles of the holy streams.”

Symbols in After the Funeral: After the Funeral of Dylan Thomas is packed up with a number of symbols. The dried woods of Wales symbolize places and people devoid of the kindness and sympathy which the dead woman bad in real abundance. Dry leaves, for instance, symbolize the pages on which Thomas will write a poem to express his grief over the death of his maternal aunt.  

The four crossing birds are a very powerful Biblical symbol in this poem. The criss-cross movements with which the four birds, probably doves, make the four-pointed sign of the cross are a formal blessing over the dead woman. Here, the sign of the cross is holy for Christians. 

Symbols in The Force That Through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower:  Dylan Thomas identifies the human body with the physical universe, and in doing so, Thomas makes use of many symbols in this poem.  The Force That Through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower‘ is a poem in which the word flower in the very first line serves as a symbol for Nature.  

Quicksand is employed here as a symbol of a destructive aspect of Nature. Wax in this poem is used as a symbol for dead flesh. The phrase shroud sail suggests both death and life. Sail represents movement or life. The mountain spring and the fountain head are both symbols of life and nourishment. The fountainhead symbolizes the womb, which is the source of life. There is a symbolic line in the poem,  

“How time has ticked a heaven round the stars”

This line is a symbolic way of saying that, under the pressure of Time, man has invented eternity. 

Most of the symbols of Dylan Thomas are used to express his private feelings, not have a universal appeal. But using these symbols, Dylan Thomas picturized his poetry like a symbolist.