What is the central idea of "And Death Shall Have No Dominion" by Dylan Thomas?

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lprono eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As emphasized by the title line which is adapted from Romans 6:9 and opens and closes each of the three stanzas of the poem, Thomas's central theme here is resurrection. Starting from the very title, there are several Christian echoes in the poem, although Thomas treats the theme not only from a religious perspective but also as a celebration of the forces of life to win over death. At the end of the poem, we are left to wonder whether, in spite of the Biblical imagery, Thomas is not offering an alternative vision of resurrection to that of official Christianity. The poem frames resurrection in nature, thus adhering to the pantheistic view that sees God in all natural things and in the harmony of the universe. The theme is illustrated through a series of paradoxes (for example, lines 6-8 first stanza: 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 convey the idea that, although material appearances may point to the victory of death, a deeper reality shows that human lives continue under other forms in communion with nature.

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