Give a stanza by stanza summary of the poem "And Death Shall Have No Dominion" by Dylan Thomas.

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booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Dylan Thomas' poem "And Death Shall Have No Dominion," the theme is introduced at the start and continues throughout the rest of the stanzas. In essence, though death of the body may occur, the spirit will live on and become one with the universe. Look to stanza one.

The first and last lines repeat the sentiment presented in the title. It is repeated for emphasis. The speaker believes that when bodies disintegrate, they become one with nature: with the wind, the moon, and the stars. Though even the bones disappear over time, the spirit will join the natural elements of the world. The speaker then presents paradoxical statements:

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...

These seemingly impossible situations can be explained in the context of death because of its inability to conquer the spirit. In death, madness disappears; a body may sink into the ocean, but its spirit will rise; and, while lovers may be separated by death, their love will not be destroyed: for "death shall have no dominion."

The speaker continues, defying any kind of death to overcome the spirit. Whether one dies in the oceans or tortured on the "racks," "strapped to a wheel" (horrible forms of physical torment)—in such pain that...

...Faith in their hands shall snap in two...

However, he asserts once more that the spirit will be victorious: the spirit will not break, even while the body or one's faith might.

The final stanza continues with the same theme, but concentrates upon the unity of the spirit with nature after death—alluded to in the first stanza with the wind, the moon, etc. However, even if nature is gone: the gulls, the waves or the daisies, the spirit remains as part of the natural world. The final segment explains that there is a connection between...’s life force to that of other natural beings—the birds and flowers. When people die, their life force may enter a daisy or the sun, but it will not simply end. 

So the speaker remains steadfast in all three stanzas, insisting that while the physical world may be affected by death—in particular those who die, even horrible deaths, and/or those separated physically from the corporeal existence—the spirit will endure...

...And death shall have no dominion.

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