Did Dylan Thomas often write poems about death?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that death is a topic upon which Thomas writes, but it is part of a larger struggle.  This is a struggle to be human, to live and to die.  Thomas is writing at the time of the Great Depression and the outbreak of World War II.  If we examine this time period, it is one of worldwide bitterness.  There is a feeling of death in his work because the sensation that is around the world is that Thanatos, the death instinct, is prevailing over Eros, the force of love.  In this wrestling and this intense battle, Thomas writes.  With a world gripped in economic and political despair, Thomas speaks of a setting where individuals are almost powerless but for their rage, their freedom.  It is this ability, to voice frustration and anger, that comes out in his poems as a writing of death, an element that was so present in the world in many forms at the time of Thomas' writing.

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poonamvalera | College Teacher | (Level 1) Honors

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“And death shall have no dominion” is another portrayal of life and death as mere stages within the universal process.  Despite the poignant analogies in this poem, the refrain has the most significance.  It  is a reminder that life does not end in death, and that although death may be unmerciful, our souls will endure regardless and be redeemed.  “Dead men naked they shall be one / With the man in the wind and the west moon” succinctly describes Thomas’ view of  how, in death, we are as pure and naked as we are in birth, and how only our souls (without clothing and extraneous unnatural hindrances) are redeemed to become one with a greater existence.  Once again, Thomas connects God with nature.  He reveals that because God is present in nature, when we die our souls are given to God and therefore also given to the beauty of nature. Thomas also explores the grace and glory of the afterlife, where “Though they go mad they shall be sane,/…Though lovers be lost love shall not;”

 

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poonamvalera | College Teacher | (Level 1) Honors

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“And Death Shall Have No Dominion” is a poem in three nine-line stanzas of sprung rhythm. Each of the stanzas begins and ends with the title line, which echoes Romans 6:9 from the King James translation of the Christian New Testament: “Death hath no more dominion.” The title and the refrain give the theme of the poem—resurrection—and introduce its characteristic rhythm and solemn tone.And Death Shall Have No Dominion’ shows that Dylan Thomas is essentially a lyricist. The central theme of the poem is resurrection which is stated and restated with variation and example. Thomas seems to be conducting a service for all the dead with the radiant hope of the ultimate revival and resurrection.

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