«The country is holy». Echoes of melancholia, hermitage and nostalgia in Dylan Thomas’s later poetry
In spite of Dylan Thomas’s evasive, elusive and even misleading attitude towards his readings as well as towards his own poetic production, both literary criticism and critical examination of his poetry testify to the Welsh poet’s vast knowledge. This essay aims to highlight the presence, especially in Thomas’s later poetry, of the classical concept of melancholia, which the poet possibly inherits and absorbs from Renaissance culture, the Metaphysical poets and the Romantics, then to combine it with the ‘newer’ concept of nostalgia which is typical of the twentieth century. Both melancholy and nostalgia become most visible and intensified in Thomas’s later poetry, where the lyrical voice grows less rebellious and more mature, closer to the elegy and the pastoral genre, and more isolated in a sacred natural dimension which acts as speculum animae.