The Dylan Thomas Centre is located about ten minutes walk from the wide-stretched Swansea bay where the colours of sunset leak into the sea currents, which can be spotted in regular extravagance as waves rush across to the edges of the beach. The centre houses a permanent exhibition on the life, works and influence of the famous Welsh poet.
“It is the record of my individual struggle
from darkness towards some measure of light.”
– Dylan Thomas, Poetic Manifesto, 1951.
Thomas was not a mere dreamer or a solitary poet who rolled out few hundred verses and faded into oblivion. The work of Dylan Thomas is very engaging and very appealing to most people, including those who might view poetry as an elitist art or a literary form divorced from the real world. He wrote on themes such as life, death, sex, nature, love, childhood and madness, all of which can be found in this exhibit.
This permanently housed exhibition is an unparalleled one to be seen anywhere, not only for the giant portrayal of a poet’s life on grand walls, but also for the stories of his rise to international fame, his poetry readings in USA, the depth and breadth of his poetic works, his affair with alcohol and the speculation surrounding his relationships with women. An important finding that must also be noted in this exhibition is that even though all of Thomas’ work was apolitical, he had a brief involvement during the World War II to draft propaganda scripts for the Ministry of Information. This finding is a significant encouragement for the scholars of arts and peace in particular to further investigate the use of poetry and poetic fame in general during international conflicts, like music as an art has for decades been used towards this end in military music, along with ‘war songs’ where mothers encourage their sons to be brave soldiers and to kill.
For tourists to Swansea, poetry enthusiasts or even published poets, why should they visit this exhibition? It is because in this magnificent and perfectly organised exhibition, Thomas stands out as a British poet of unrivalled fame. An exhibition must make us think, it must show us a side of the world and of people that we have never seen before or we may not come across in the future. The following verses of Dylan Thomas make us deeply think, and also invite us to learn more about his work and his life:
“… a poet is a poet
for such a very
tiny bit of his life;
for the rest,
he is a human being…”
– Dylan Thomas, Poets on Poetry, 1946.
For those who might think they need more of Thomas’ poetry outside this exhibition, they will find his verses all over the centre of Swansea alongside sculptures in public places, and a warm welcome from his words engraved on a pillar at the Swansea rail station. Whilst his words from the exhibition will leave our hearts enriched, the City of Swansea has set a very important example of taking the less appreciated art of poetry to freely accessible public spaces.