"Autobiographies of great nations are written in three manuscripts – a book of deeds, a book of words, and a book of art.
Of the three, I would choose the latter as truest testimony." - Sir Kenneth Smith, Great Civilisations

"I must write each day without fail, not so much for the success of the work, as in order not to get out of my routine." - Leo Tolstoy

I have never believed that one should wait until one is inspired because I think the pleasures of not writing are so
great that if you ever start indulging them you will never write again. - John Updike

"The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another; and his humblest hour
is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it." - J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Dylan Thomas - In the White Giant's Thigh

Who once were a bloom of wayside brides in the hawed house
and heard the lewd, wooed field flow to the coming frost,
the scurrying, furred small friars squeal in the dowse
of day, in the thistle aisles, till the white owl crossed...

- Dylan Thomas


Dylan Thomas - And Death Shall Have No dominion & Comments

And death shall have no dominion.
Dead men naked they shall be one
With the man in the wind and the west moon;
When their bones are picked clean and
the clean bones gone,
They shall have stars at elbow and foot;
Though they go mad they shall be sane,
Though they sink through the sea they
shall rise again;
Though lovers be lost love shall not;
And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
Under the windings of the sea
They lying long shall not die windily;
Twisting on racks when sinews give way,
Strapped to a wheel, yet they shall not break;
Faith in their hands shall snap in two,
And the unicorn evils run them through;
Split all ends up they shan't crack;
And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
No more may gulls cry at their ears
Or waves break loud on the seashores;
Where blew a flower may a flower no more
Lift its head to the blows of the rain;
Though they be mad and dead as nails,
Heads of the characters hammer
through daisies;
Break in the sun till the sun breaks down,
And death shall have no dominion.

- Dylan Thomas
April 1933


For more information on this poem - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/And_death_shall_have_no_dominion

And death shall have no dominion
by on Mar 5, 2008


Review - Dylan Marlais Thomas
And Death Shall Have No Dominion

Written by David Tam
davidkftam@netscape.net Copyright 1999

Dylan Marlais Thomas was born on October 27, 1914, in Swansea, Glamorganshire, Wales.He married Caitlin Macnamara and had two sons and a daughter.He was a poet, prose writer, reporter, reviewer, scriptwriter, radio commentator, and actor.He gave public poetry readings on the BBC radio and in lecture tours in the United States.Because of a drinking problem, he died of pneumonia on November 9, 1953, in New York City.

Dylan Thomas is one of the renowned authors of the twentieth century.He believed writing was a process of self-discovery.This was reflected in his writings where he explored his own existence and communicated his discoveries with others.His writing remained distinctly personal, using metaphorical language, sensuous imagery, and psychological detail.Though it remained personal, he focused on universal concerns such as birth, death, love, and religion.His works included: "Eighteen Poems" - 1934, "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog" - 1940, "Fern Hill" - 1946, and "Adventures in the Skin Trade" - 1955, after his death.His Welsh background attributed to his attention to sound and rhythm.Up until 1939, he was concerned with introspective, obsessive, sexual, and religious feelings.He argued rhetorically with himself about sex, death, sin, redemption, natural processes, and creation and decay.

Poetic and literary devices that were used included near-rhyme (consonance), pun, paradox, repetition, alliteration, inversion, metaphors, and contrast. The poet used "foot" and "not" at the end of lines 5 and 8 as a near-rhyme. It is one of the more prominent devices because it is used throughout the poem. A pun was used on the word "windily" in line 12 to mean both the movement of the sea and the shroud in which the dead are buried at sea. A paradox could be found in line 16 where the poet wrote "unicorn evils them through;". The unicorn is a symbol of Christ and has no association with evils.The most obvious repetition was that of the line, "And death shall have no dominion" because it was present at the beginning and ending of each stanza.The repetition of the word "though" was present in the first stanza. This was the most prominent device that the poet used.It effectively re-enforced the ideas of the poem and provided a secure poetic structure.Alliteration could be found in a few places, such as line 8, "Though lovers be lost love shall not."Inversion was present in line 4, "...bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone." A metaphor was used in line 15 to compare faith with a wooden stick, "Faith in their hands shall snap in two." Contrast was evident in lines 6 to 8, "Though they go mad, they shall be sane,"and could also be classified as a paradox.

Images of the sea, torture, and biblical events were formed from the reading of this poem.Sea imagery was created in the first stanza by the the idea that the dead sank into the sea and rose again.In the second stanza, "windings of the sea" was mentioned.The third stanza the sound of gulls and the seashore maintained this imagery.Images of suffering were found in the second stanza in lines 13 and 14."Twisting on racks when sinews give way, strapped to a wheel, yet they shall not break." These lines brought out the image of the body and muscles in pain and of the midevil Catherine Wheel. Biblical imagery was created by the description of the rise of dead bodies from the sea (Revelation 20:13), and the use of the paradox of "unicorn evils".

The idea of this poem was that although people die, they will eventually be redeemed at the end of time.It supported the prophesies of the bible, the Book of Revelations.We should not let the fear of death control our lives. We have nothing to fear because at the end, God will redeem those who were good.Each stanza of the poem developed support for expansion of the theme. The first stanza focused on mankind, the second focused more on God and suffering, and the third focused on nature.The poet was making a bold statement about life and the prophesies.

The repetition of "And death shall have no dominion" re-enforced the theme of this poem.The message was delivered very strongly and even used as the title.By repeating this line at the beginning and end of each stanza, a nicely structured poem developed.The use of near-rhyme made the poem enjoyable to read.


Dylan Thomas Companion
by Golden Essays

[When[ Auden and Christopher Isherwood set sail for the United States, the so-called 'All the fun' age ended. Auden's generation of poets' expectations came to nothing after the end of the Spanish Civil War, and they, disillusioned, left the European continent for good.

In the late 1930s the school of Surrealism reached England, and Dylan Thomas was one of the few British authors of the time who were followers of this new trend in the arts. He shared the Surrealist interest in the great abstracts of Love and Death, and composed most of his work according to the rules of Surrealism.

His first two volumes, Eighteen Poems and Twenty-five Poems were published in the middle of the decade and of this short surrealistic era as well. Dylan Thomas was declared the Shelley of the 20th century as his poems were the perfect examples of 'new-romanticism' with their 'violent natural imagery, sexual and Christian symbolism and emotional subject matter expressed in a singing rhythmical verse' (Under Siege - Robert Hewison, 1977.).

The aim of 'new-romanticism' was setting poets free from W.H. Auden's demand for 'the strict and adult pen'. In 1933 Dylan Thomas sent two of his poems to London, one of which was an earlier version of his famous poem, And Death Shall Have No Dominion. It was dated April 1933 in Thomas's notebook and was published for the first time in the 18 May 1933 issue of the New English Weekly.

After its first publication, the poem was altered several times and got its final form in Twenty-five Poems, even though Thomas was not particularly proud of this work of his, and was not sure about publishing it for a second time. Immediately in its title, the poem has a reference to the New Testament, which was one of Dylan Thomas's main sources of metaphor. The title (and the refrain of the poem as well):

'And Death Shall Have No Dominion' has been taken from the King James Version of the Scriptures, which, with its flowing language and prose rhythm, has had profound influence on the literature of the past 300 years. 'Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves dead to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.' Romans 6:9-11

There is another line in the poem,

'Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;' which resembles a line from the Scripture: 'And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.' Revelation 20:13

The assertive optimism of the poem can also be brought into connection with the traditions of evangelical hymns, which is best reflected in the lines;

'Though they go mad they shall be sane, Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again; Though lovers be lost love shall not, And death shall have no dominion.'

It seems, that it is this assertive optimism Dylan Thomas is trying to impose on the reader, and, perhaps on himself as well in this poem, maybe in order to keep his sanity. Being one of the least obscure of Dylan Thomas's poetry, it was evident, that of his earlier woks, beside Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night and The Force That through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower, And Death Shall Have No Dominion would catch public imagination quite easily. The thing in this poem that drew the attention of the everyman was the constancy of hope coming from the notion that everything is cyclical: though the individuals perish, 'they shall rise again', and, though particular loves are lost, love itself continues.

The tone of this poem is quite sermon-like, and its atmosphere is rather Christian; yet, the central theme in it is not religion, nor the religious beliefs concerning death but the relationship between man and nature. Thomas claims in the second stanza that deliverance from death is not through religious faith as

'Faith in their hands shall snap in two, And the unicorn evils run them through;' but he declares man's unity with nature at death: 'Dead men naked they shall be one With the man in the wind and the west moon.'

The frame of the poem is the title, the first line, the refrain from the Bible, repetitive and insistent at the beginning and the end of each stanza. Between these lines the poem is full of vivid imagery, of which probably the most significant can be found in the above-mentioned line ('With the man in the wind and the west moon;'). Here Dylan Thomas uses one of his most characteristic devices: the transferred epithet, to create a new image form 'the man in the moon and the west wind'.

Beside his sophisticated use of poetic devices, Thomas's poems are full of lively images, such as

'When their bones are picked clear and clean bones gone, They shall have stars at elbow and foot;', or 'Twisting on racks when sinews give way, Strapped to a wheel, yet they shall not break;'

which sometimes seem to be a completely meaningless confusion of images. This is one characteristic of Surrealist poetry. In the case of And Death Shall Have No Dominion this 'confusion' is counterbalanced with the repetition, therefore the meaning, the feeling of the poem is homogeneous, even despite the rather nothing-to-do-with-each-other images.

The significance of this poem lies in its being simple and subtle at the same time.


1. A Dylan Thomas Companion - John Ackerman, 1991 2. All references to the Bible from the Bible Gateway (www.gospelcom.net) 3. Dylan Thomas - Paul Ferris, 1977 4. The Ironic Harvest - Geoffrey Thurley, 1974 5. The King James Version (KJV) of the Bible, 1611 6. The Norton Anthology of English Literature 7. The Oxford Illustrated History English Literature - ed. Pat Rogers, 1987 8. The Penguin History of Literature, The Twentieth Century - ed. Martin Dodsworth, 1994 9. Under Siege (Literary Life in London 1939-1945) - Robert Hewison, 1977

Dylan Thomas - In My Craft or Sullen Art

In my craft or sullen art
Exercised in the still night
When only the moon rages
And the lovers lie abed
With all their griefs in their arms
I labour by singing light
Not for ambition or bread
Or the strut and trade of charms
On the ivory stages
But for the common wages
Of their most secret heart.
Not for the proud man apart
From the raging moon I write
On these spindrift pages
Nor for the towering dead
With their nightingales and psalms
But for the lovers, their arms
Round the griefs of the ages,
Who pay no praise or wages
Nor heed my craft or art.

- Dylan Thomas