Analysis: “And Death Shall Have No Dominion”

The average educator and literary critic in this society that undervalues poets lack an understanding of poetic writings, even popular verses that have been around for decades, or ages. Yet, until now PluribusOne™ has not analyzed any poetry, although we did analyze some of T. S. Eliot’s work in preparing the November, 2012 post: “T. S. Eliot and the Illuminati.” A typical example is this poem by Dylan Thomas which has been under-appreciated with respect to its full meaning, richness, and power:

And death shall have no dominion

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 break down,
And death shall have no dominion.

To provide a line-by-line analysis would spoil the fun for those who will enjoy doing that for themselves after they get the gist of it. The standard analysis of the poem is that it is derived from The Holy Bible—Romans 6:9, an epistle from St. Paul—and that it conveys a Christian message. This ignores that the line “and death shall have no dominion” is not a biblical quote. It ignores the fact that Romans 6:9 refers to Jesus Christ, the only Son of God according to doctrine. And it ignores that Dylan Thomas was an atheist and no friend of religion! His message conveys metaphysical truths that are higher than religious ideas: the eternal engine of Love, the unity of Life, and the certainty that no matter how a person has lived or been judged by others, no matter what that person believes or disdains, the essence of each human, every “character,” is indelible—immortal.

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