Friday, August 01, 2014

And Death Shall Have No Dominion, part I

After searching in vain for a somewhat poetic analysis of this moving poem by Dylan Thomas, I decided to attempt one myself.  I came to know of this poem while watching the equally moving film Solaris (Steven Soderbergh, 2002), which film is itself a remake and a homage to the earlier film of the same name, directed in 1972 by the iconic Soviet auteur Andrei Tarkovsky.
The poem is called "And Death Shall Have No Dominion".  It was written in 1933, and the title finds its inspiration in St Paul's Epistle to the Romans: 
Knowing that Christ rising again from the dead, dieth now no more, death shall no more have dominion over him. (6.9)
Here's the poem, in full:
And death shall have no dominion.
Dead men 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.
In three subsequent posts, I will present my understanding and appreciation of this poem.

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