Dylan Thomas

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A note on Dylan Thomas' use of imagery in his poetry.

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Megan Miller eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Dylan Thomas is known for vivid imagery in his poems. This is especially highlighted when his poems are read aloud.

Many of his poems feature nature imagery. One example is "Poem in October." The speaker writes about walking outside on his birthday. He describes the world around him: the woods and forest, the animals, and the weather. He says the town is "leaved with October blood," meaning that the town is covered by leaves that turn red in the fall. This imagery is striking and more interesting than simply saying the leaves are red.

He often uses alliteration, such as the "webbed wall" and "high hill." Additionally, Thomas uses both similes and metaphors:

And over the sea wet church the size of a snail
With its horns through mist and the castle
Brown as owls

In addition to nature imagery, this poem features religious imagery. Instead of simply saying it was his thirtieth birthday, Thomas phrases it: "It was my thirtieth year to heaven."

Religious imagery and death imagery are also present in "After the Funeral" and one of his most famous poems: "Do Not Go Gentle." He often writes about death, using similes and metaphors to describe it. He writes about it from a religious point of view.

When we read the poems of Dylan Thomas aloud, we can hear how his imagery allows us to form a picture in our minds. He often uses devices such as alliteration, simile, and metaphor to build his nature, death, and religious imagery.

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Lorna Stowers eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In many of Dylan Thomas' poetry, nature is heavily used in regards to imagery.

For example, in the poem "But Being Men" Dylan speaks of men walking through the forest afraid of waking the birds. The imagery used here represents men who wish to enter into things without causing problems for the things around them. In the poem, men are worried about the rooks, fearful they will wake them because of their heavy footfalls. Thomas reflects on children who would not wake the birds with their lighter footfalls. The point of the poem is that men walk with a heavy weight on their shoulders which can reek havoc on the things around them.

In another poem, "All All and All", Thomas begins the poem reflecting on the world around him: the the ocean, the ice, the lava, and the oil. This imagery speaks to the natural aspects of the world intermingled with the artificial: synthetic blood, ribbing metal, and seeded milling. Here the imagery used recognizes the imbalance between the natural and artificial world.

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