Dylan Thomas – The Voice of a Poet

Dylan Thomas 1914 – 1953

Do not go gentle into that good night

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Fern Hill

Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs
About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green,
The night above the dingle starry,
Time let me hail and climb
Golden in the heydays of his eyes,
And honoured among wagons I was prince of the apple towns
And once below a time I lordly had the trees and leaves
Trail with daisies and barley
Down the rivers of the windfall light.

And as I was green and carefree, famous among the barns
About the happy yard and singing as the farm was home,
In the sun that is young once only,
Time let me play and be
Golden in the mercy of his means,
And green and golden I was huntsman and herdsman, the calves
Sang to my horn, the foxes on the hills barked clear and cold,
And the sabbath rang slowly
In the pebbles of the holy streams.

All the sun long it was running, it was lovely, the hay
Fields high as the house, the tunes from the chimneys, it was air
And playing, lovely and watery
And fire green as grass.
And nightly under the simple stars
As I rode to sleep the owls were bearing the farm away,
All the moon long I heard, blessed among stables, the nightjars
Flying with the ricks, and the horses
Flashing into the dark.

And then to awake, and the farm, like a wanderer white
With the dew, come back, the cock on his shoulder: it was all
Shining, it was Adam and maiden,
The sky gathered again
And the sun grew round that very day.
So it must have been after the birth of the simple light
In the first, spinning place, the spellbound horses walking warm
Out of the whinnying green stable
On to the fields of praise.

And honoured among foxes and pheasants by the gay house
Under the new made clouds and happy as the heart was long,
In the sun born over and over,
I ran my heedless ways,
My wishes raced through the house high hay
And nothing I cared, at my sky blue trades, that time allows
In all his tuneful turning so few and such morning songs
Before the children green and golden
Follow him out of grace,

Nothing I cared, in the lamb white days, that time would take me
Up to the swallow thronged loft by the shadow of my hand,
In the moon that is always rising,
Nor that riding to sleep
I should hear him fly with the high fields
And wake to the farm forever fled from the childless land.
Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means,
Time held me green and dying
Though I sang in my chains like the sea.

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.

From ‘Under Milk Wood’

Every morning when I wake,
Dear Lord, a little prayer I make,
O please do keep Thy lovely eye
On all poor creatures born to die

And every evening at sun-down
I ask a blessing on the town,
For whether we last the night or no
I’m sure is always touch-and-go.

We are not wholly bad or good
Who live our lives under Milk Wood,
And Thou, I know, wilt be the first
To see our best side, not our worst.

O let us see another day!
Bless us all this night, I pray,
And to the sun we all will bow
And say, good-bye – but just for now!

And Death Shall Have No Dominion

And death shall have no dominion.

Dead man 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.

Introduction

Dylan Thomas, a Welsh poet and writer, remains an influential figure in the world of literature. Born on October 27, 1914, in Swansea, Wales, Thomas is celebrated for his unique lyrical style and powerful voice. His work, which includes poetry, short stories, and scripts, transcends the boundaries of time and continues to resonate with audiences today.

Early Life

Thomas was born into a middle-class family. His father, a schoolteacher, instilled in him a love for literature, especially poetry. Growing up in Swansea, Thomas was a bright but undisciplined student. He began writing poetry as a teenager, with his first poem published in the school magazine. This early exposure to literature and poetry laid the foundation for his future career.

Career Highlights

Dylan Thomas’ career began to flourish in the early 1930s. His initial works, like “18 Poems” (1934), received critical acclaim for their romantic and lyrical qualities. Thomas’ ability to blend the surreal with the everyday made his work stand out. His most famous piece, “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night” a villanelle, is celebrated for its passionate call against death. His innovative use of language and form significantly influenced modern poetry.

Personal Life

Dylan Thomas’s personal life was as intense and tumultuous as his literary work. He married Caitlin Macnamara in 1937, and their union was marked by passion and strife. The couple had three children, but Thomas’s frequent absences and infidelities strained the relationship. Moreover, Thomas struggled with alcoholism, which exacerbated his health issues and impacted his professional life. Despite these personal challenges, they provided a backdrop to some of his most poignant work, reflecting a life lived with raw intensity.

Legacy and Influence

Thomas’s untimely death at the age of 39 in 1953 left a profound impact on the literary world. He is remembered not just for his lyrical poetry and prose but also for his charismatic readings and radio broadcasts. His influence extends beyond poetry; it permeates popular culture, inspiring musicians, filmmakers, and other writers. His exploration of themes like life, death, and the human condition continues to resonate, making his work timeless. Dylan Thomas’s legacy is a testament to the enduring power of passionate and evocative writing.

Conclusion

Dylan Thomas’s life was a fusion of brilliance and turmoil, a characteristic mirrored in his literary works. His unique voice and lyrical style revolutionized poetry and left an indelible mark on literature. More than just a poet, Thomas was a storyteller who captured the complexities of the human experience. His legacy endures, not just in the pages of his writing but in the hearts of those who find solace, inspiration, and understanding in his words.

Table of Dylan Thomas’s Works

Year Title Type of Work Brief Description
1934 18 Poems Poetry Collection His first published book, showcasing his early lyrical and imaginative style.
1936 Twenty-Five Poems Poetry Collection Further development of his poetic voice, with vivid imagery and themes.
1939 The Map of Love Poetry and Short Stories A mix of both prose and poetry, displaying a diverse range of his talents.
1940 Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog Short Story Collection Autobiographical stories reflecting his early life in Wales.
1950 Deaths and Entrances Poetry Collection More mature work, reflecting on war and loss, showcasing his evolving style.
1952 Collected Poems, 1934–1952 Poetry Collection A comprehensive collection of his poetry, illustrating his growth as a poet.
1954 Under Milk Wood Radio Drama His most famous play, a lyrical and comic reflection of a Welsh seaside town.
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