Dylan Thomas

(27 October 1914 – 9 November 1953 / Swansea / Wales)

And Death Shall Have No Dominion


And death shall have no dominion.
Dead man 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.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003
Edited: Monday, June 04, 2012

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  • Moonlight Shadows (10/7/2012 10:09:00 AM)

    Though lovers be lost love shall not.
    Even when people change and their old self dies, we still love
    And remain hopeful that someday their old self is resurrected
    Although that is probably wishful thinking for some who have
    Consumed by their addiction such as to alcohol drugs power wealth or money.
    Though I continue to love, I no longer wait however.
    I believe such illness has struck them down to the pit of oblivion
    Never to be recovered again. (Report) Reply

  • Alan Whitworth (10/6/2012 7:00:00 AM)

    'Though lovers BE lost...' is perfectly fine English. It' a subjunctive. Like 'If I WERE you'.
    Alan Whitworth (Report) Reply

  • * Sunprincess * (9/14/2012 6:01:00 PM)

    I agree Dylan the heroic acts of mankind will live on even after death strikes his heavy hand...even though my mom has gone with death, my love for her has not...excellent write.. :) (Report) Reply

  • Linda Makins (6/16/2012 7:11:00 AM)

    @ Jamie Ross.
    Have you never heard of the subjunctive? ? ? ? ? Xref “If I were a rich man” in the second conditional. I suggest you learn a bit more about the English language before slagging off one of the greatest poets of the 20th century. (Report) Reply

  • Martin O'Neill (4/6/2012 8:56:00 PM)

    Not wishing to be a party pooper, but I was asked to read out the phrase 'and death shall have no dominion over them' at my father's funeral. I looked it up in it's context within Isaiah. It comes as the endline to some of the worst exhortations to hate and violence and murder that if someone were to write it today in England they would be charged with incitement to race hate.
    Never could see what people find so wonderful about the bible, myself. (Report) Reply

  • D. L. (3/17/2012 11:58:00 PM)

    I once heard an original recording of And Death Shall Have No Dominion read by Dylan Thomas himself. He was drunk most the time for his readings and this one did not disappoint...
    He was born into a post revival Great Britain, although I feel he heard of the glory days of the early rain of the Welsh Revival (1904) , I gesture he never got the root of it or worse yet, rejected the substance of the root, for he went on to succumb his hurts and pains with alcohol, which is available to all, in the place of the presence of the Holy Spirit, which is given to those who obey God by believing His goodness...

    It had an otherworldliness to the meter and rhyme just as when Yeats read poetry, as if it were a spell...

    The truth of Revelation 21: 4 is elucidated by the Bible-hearing poet (For he heard the Bible preached for 3-4 or more hours at least every Sunday and referenced to throughout the week) ...

    He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away (Rev 21: 4) ...
    Probably conjoined with the grounding truth of Romans 6: 9, Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him - meaning that since Christ as Messiah and archetechtonic example of MAN has been raised, DEATH itself has been defeated within the WORK of CHRIST'S redemption... (Report) Reply

  • Jamie Ross (3/17/2012 6:13:00 PM)

    That should be Although lovers ARE lost. That's bad english and i would suggest you change bthe name of your poem because it sounds slightly silly (Report) Reply

  • Jamie Ross (3/17/2012 6:10:00 PM)

    Shouldnt that be Although lovers ARE lost? Thats just bad english and now your poem has a silly name (Report) Reply

  • Jamie Ross (3/17/2012 6:08:00 PM)

    Shouldnt that be Although lovers ARE lost? thats just bad english and now your poem has a silly name (Report) Reply

  • Rod Cox (6/1/2010 5:19:00 AM)

    This is not a poem about religious themes in any way. It is not about survival of the soul after death, and there is no redemption. No redemption except...... transcendently for the Human Race, ideas, even life itself. It is easy to read this as a poem in praise of the blindness of Evolution, the survival of life as a whole, not of any individual.
    Even the transcendent survival of, say, Dylan's own poetry is not what this is about. It is about the lust of life itself, of love especially, and hunger and adversity as well as hope and joy, and the mad surreality, as an earlier comment says, of the world in which it all takes place.

    For this reason, I have dedicated this poem to the dead on the Free Gaza boats that were attacked by Israel on 31st May 2010. 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 shall not crack; And Death shall have no dominion.

    Now they are dead, what they are can no longer be subjected to torture and recantation, the meaning of their lives is fixed in the meaning of their death, and they shall not feel the blows of a hard world trying to weaken them anymore - 'age shall not weary them' as Binyon said. Their achievements are now set in stone, and the meaning will live as long as people remember them.

    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.

    Life will succeed no matter what is done to stop it, when a flower dies, another grows, and it grows with he character of the land, the soil, the place where it is planted. It grows with the soul of the dead, who gave them birth, though they were never a father nor a mother, still they shape the future, and they speak beyond the grave, not even needing words.
    We are all heroes, we all change society, and not even death can change it back, nor stop the hunger for life that drives us forward, and our children, and their children, and the rats that eat us, and evolution itself. The world will change, change by the actions of its heroes, and death will not defeat them. That is why this is such a fitting tribute to the Dead of the Israeli Assault on the Free Gaza Humanitarian Convoy. (Report) Reply

  • Jacqui Thewless (7/15/2009 5:53:00 PM)

    This is, probably, my favourite poem. It was 'love at first reading', when I was 12 years old - and I am now 53. I can't agree with Joel. For me, everything hard, harsh, mad, insane (evil, perhaps?) is overcome - or, perhaps, vindicated - by what Thomas calls 'characters' - namely that which is uniquely personal in individuals. Look again at how the swell surges towards that line: 'Heads of the characters hammer through daisies'. It is a deeply, powerfully positive poem, well known and very much loved by people of all age-groups especially because of the spiritual/emotional position of bravery and transcendence from which it derives. (Report) Reply

  • Ronald Speight (3/14/2009 7:25:00 AM)

    I feel that it expresses the trials of life but by saying 'and death shall have no dominion' the poet is stating life is just worth it or maybe my feelings come from young eyes (Report) Reply

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