• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Dylan Thomas' The Hand that Signed the Paper

Extracts from this document...


Victor Randolph Brent Russo English 28A 10 March, 2009 How Can You Mend A Broken Heart? The poem that I have chosen to work with, "The Hand That Signed the Paper," seems especially potent to me. The poem was written when Thomas was only nineteen, and his youth shows. The poem is painted in broad strokes and is not as nuanced as his later poetry, but still comes from a sophisticated mind. It is an elegant example of the kind of historical knowledge and awareness of tradition that T.S. Eliot argued any good poet ought to have.1 Ezra Pound described the artist (and poet) as "The antenna of the race, the barometer and voltmeter" 2 Allen Ginsberg described himself as "the Defense Early Warning Radar System." 3 "The Hand That Signed the Paper" is written with qualities of both characterizations of poets as social detectors. The poem was written in 1933, a year after Germany began re-armament4 after its military was deconstructed by the Treaty of Versailles. The poem challenges the political and social attitudes of Western Europe as it reframes Weimar Germany as victim to the synecdochic hand. The consequence of those attitudes (Thomas as "Early Warning Radar System" would argue) is Germany's rapid reorganization towards Nazism. The content of this poem is of a much greater depth than the form. ...read more.


With that defeat, discourse begins. The second stanza follows the poem's timeline as it moves through the culmination of battle towards post-war diplomacy. The hand is referenced again, emphasizing both its narrative and its connotation. The hand's finger joints are described as being "cramped with chalk." This positions the hand as being after it's drafting of that signed paper. The image of the hand leading to a sloping shoulder and not simply touching, is also ripe with implication. It implies an ignorance of the consequent actions of the body of that shoulder. As if simply; only a slight attempt has been made at rectification. The stanza is closed by the phrase "A goose's quill has put an end to murder / That put an end to talk." There is a concept of war or death putting an end to dialogue present here. This phrase could be a reference to the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, or could be a reference to war ending the freedom of speech and being a result of the failure of diplomacy. Thomas' use of the "goose's quill" in his poem is an injection of aristocratic and bureaucratic imagery. During this time period, treaties would have most likely been signed using fountain pens, but the poetic treaty is still signed with a goose quill. If the second stanza deals mainly with the drafting and introduction of "the paper." ...read more.


The poem's narrative through battle, diplomacy, aftereffect and chronicle serves to provide a linear temporality to the poem which in turn heightens the poem's effect. To have a recognizable and relatable course of events helps to ground the work in a familiar reality. Thomas is offering a mirror in this poem which Britain and the United States in particular are invited to look into. It is prescient writing for 1933, and Dylan Thomas would have to have been "tuned in" to understand the consequence of history. The further capitulation by Britain to Germany after this poem was written would ignite a Second World War that had already been fueled by two decades of social and economic anxiety. Thomas traces that anxiety to five kings crippling a sixth. An aspect of the poem that I feel I am not capable of doing justice with this particular essay is Thomas' unique use of sound and rhyme. Thomas would become famous for his musicality, and his deft use of that talent in this particular poem elicits a surreal beauty. There are elements of alliteration present as well as a strange yet comfortable meter. It is comfortable in the sense that the rhythm of syllables is never jarring. What I sought to accomplish with this paper was, to provide a meaning and a foundation for the poem. It will have to be someone else's responsibility to dissect every subtle sound and interpret the poem's rolling rhythm. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree Other Poets section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree Other Poets essays

  1. Discuss the importance of the ideas of roots and rootlessness in post-colonial writing by ...

    he suddenly feels he is 'rootless'; not necessarily he does not belong there but he feels he does not belong there. In 'Veranda', Walcott expresses his own personal feelings towards how he is torn between his own heritages, questioning his own 'roots'.

  2. This essay is mainly focused on Elizabeth Bishops poem One Art, and the recurrent ...

    Through the usage of imperatives and by sounding dominant, Bishop tells the reader that "the art of losing isn't hard to master". The only thing that is left is to "accept the fluster of lost door keys, the hour badly spent"(lines 4-5).

  1. Displacement and Doubt in Post-Colonial Literature. Olive Seniors Gardening in the Tropics is ...

    Growing up in rural Jamaica enabled Senior to be conscious of her environment that facilitated her to manipulate the Edenic imagery and gardening motif in 'Gardening in the Tropics'. "I think one of the things that have also shaped my sensibilities as a writer is the intense beauty of the

  2. Free essay

    Cutting A Better Man Out Of The Hedge: a discussion of the relation of ...

    Heaney himself also points out a lack of immediacy in Yeats, going to writers like Kavanagh for a more intimate reaction2 (1129). While Heaney and Yeats both take an elegiac stance in their poetry, Yeats stays at a distance, whereas Heaney prefers to get his hands dirty.

  1. Silence and Opression in Discourse on the Logic of Language

    The institution of science is similarly privileged. The voice of science is generally perceived to be value-neutral and objective, rather than complicit with racism and sexism and a part of discursive practices that construct the superiority of the white male.

  2. "Representation makes dummies of us all" - How is this sentiment reflected in Carol ...

    identity and there is a deliberate blurring of facts by the speaker, making the whole poem very uncertain and imprecise. It could be argued that this disorientation of events by the speaker may lead to the unheard voice questioning themselves, and putting themselves at odds with their own memories.

  1. Critical Essay of 'In the Snack Bar

    Their actions merge in the line "And slowly we go down. And slowly we go down". Despite their differences, they are linked by their mutual human condition, where they walk as one. This is mirrored later in the poem in line 63 when the man's humiliating ordeal is over: "And slowly we go up.

  2. The Death of Marilyn Monroe, by Sharon Olds, on the surface speaks about the ...

    to inability to do daily activities, ?One did not/ like his work? (16-17), to being able to love one?s own family the same way, ?his wife looked/ different, his kids. Even death/ seemed different to him?a place where she/ would be waiting? (18-21).

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work