THOMAS, Dylan (1914-1953). Two autograph manuscripts, a working draft of "Poem in October" ("Especially when the October wind...") with extensive revisions and with many lines not present in the published poem; plus a fair copy of the completed verses as published in 1934 and collected in Thomas's first book, 18 Poems (London, 1934). N.p., n.d. [ca.1934]. Together 7 pages, 197 x 152mm. (7 15/16 x 6 in.) and slightly smaller, on sheets of lined paper torn from two different exercise books, the draft comprising 5 pages (mostly in ink, some 13 lines in pencil), the fair copy consisting of two pages in blue fountain pen ink, small rust stain from paperclip in upper margin of one page, red cloth case.
"POEM IN OCTOBER": AN EARLY WORKING MANUSCRIPT
An extensive working manuscript of an early poem, collected in his first book (which one hostile reviewer termed "an unconducted tour of bedlam"), vividly showing the poem's complex evolution. The draft comprises a total of 72 lines, only 32 of which constitute the published poem. The deleted lines--either crossed out with an "x" in a series or carefully lined through singly--are quite readable, as are the many words Thomas has lined through and replaced, allowing the author's methodical progress of revision and focusing to be clearly seen. Interestingly, the poet's first line originally read "Especially when the November wind." The poem's original third line was the rather flat "Or, beaten on by the straight beams of the sun," which became "Caught by the crabbing sun I walk on fire."
Dropped from the final text are a series of lines: "To view the changeing world behind A pot of ferns, lifting the sun blind, See gilded people walking on hind legs Along the pavement where a blind man begs FHopefully, hopelessly, feeling the sun's wings To trim a window garden with a shears..." On the 5th page of the draft Thomas has drawn a pencil line to indicate the tranposition of two key lines: "(Some let me make you of autumnal spells, the spider-tongued, & the loud hill of Wales)." "Poem in October" first appeared in The Listener, October 1934. Thomas's autograph drafts are relatively rare: the James Gilvarry Collection (sold at Christie's New York, February 1986) included drafts of several, notably "On a Wedding Anniversary" (now in the Berg Collection, NYPL); and a working draft of "Do Not Go Gentle Into that Good Night" was sold at Christie's New York (27 October 1995, lot 140, $28,000).