'In My Craft Or Sullen Art' by Dylan Thomas

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Deaths and Entrances1946In my craft or sullen art
Exercised in the still night
When only the moon rages
And the lovers lie abed
With all their griefs in their arms
I labour by singing light
Not for ambition or bread
Or the strut and trade of charms
On the ivory stages
But for the common wages
Of their most secret heart.Not for the proud man apart
From the raging moon I write
On these spindrift pages
Nor for the towering dead
With their nightingales and psalms
But for the lovers, their arms
Round the griefs of the ages,
Who pay no praise or wages
Nor heed my craft or art.

Editor 1 Interpretation

"In My Craft Or Sullen Art" by Dylan Thomas: A Masterpiece of Despair and Beauty

Have you ever felt the weight of your own mortality? Have you ever wondered what it means to be alive, to create, to love, to die? These are the questions that Dylan Thomas raises in his hauntingly beautiful poem, "In My Craft Or Sullen Art." Written in 1946, the poem captures the essence of Thomas's worldview: a mixture of bleak despair and ecstatic celebration of life.

A Closer Look at the Poem

Let us begin our journey into the heart of the poem by analyzing its structure, meter, and rhyme. "In My Craft Or Sullen Art" is a villanelle, a form of poetry that originated in France in the 16th century. It consists of 19 lines divided into five tercets and a final quatrain. The first and third lines of the opening tercet are repeated alternately as a refrain throughout the poem, while the last stanza ends with both lines repeated.

The meter of the poem is also worth examining. Thomas uses iambic tetrameter, a rhythmic pattern in which each line has four iambs, or pairs of unstressed and stressed syllables. This creates a sense of urgency and momentum, as if the poem is driving towards an inevitable conclusion.

The rhyme scheme of the poem is intricate and subtle. The first and third lines of the opening tercet rhyme with each other, as do all of the other first and third lines in the subsequent stanzas. The second lines of each stanza rhyme with each other, creating a sense of unity and continuity.

A Poem of Contradictions

But what is the poem actually about? At first glance, it seems to be a meditation on the nature of art and its relationship to the artist. Thomas describes his craft as "sullen" and "lonely," suggesting that the act of creation is a solitary and often painful one. He contrasts this with the idea of "love," which he sees as something that is "bright" and "gay." This creates a sense of paradox: how can something that brings so much joy and fulfillment also be so isolating and melancholy?

As the poem unfolds, we begin to see the contradictions and complexities of Thomas's worldview. He speaks of "death," "time," and "fate" as constants that cannot be avoided. He sees life as a "spinning wheel" that "throws up" joy and sorrow in equal measure. He longs for the "sunrise" and the "moonrise," but also recognizes that they are fleeting and ephemeral. He dreams of a world in which he can create something that will endure beyond his own life, but he knows that such a thing is impossible.

A Meditation on Mortality

Ultimately, "In My Craft Or Sullen Art" is a poem about mortality. Thomas recognizes that he is mortal, that he will one day die and be forgotten. He sees his art as a way of transcending his own mortality, of creating something that will live on even after he is gone. But he also recognizes the futility of this endeavor. No matter how beautiful his poetry may be, it cannot stop time or hold death at bay.

This sense of futility is perhaps the most haunting aspect of the poem. Thomas knows that his art is ultimately powerless in the face of the inevitable. He describes his craft as "useless," his art as "broken images." But even in this apparent despair, there is a sense of beauty and wonder. Thomas's words are lush and evocative, creating vivid images that linger in the mind long after the poem has ended.


"In My Craft Or Sullen Art" is a masterpiece of poetry, a meditation on mortality that is both bleak and beautiful. Thomas's use of form, meter, and rhyme create a sense of urgency and momentum that drive the poem forward. His words are rich and evocative, creating a world that is both vivid and haunting. Ultimately, the poem is a testament to the power of art and the human spirit, even in the face of the inevitable. It is a reminder that even in the darkest of times, there is still beauty to be found in the world.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry In My Craft Or Sullen Art: A Masterpiece by Dylan Thomas

Dylan Thomas, the Welsh poet, is known for his unique style of writing and his ability to create vivid imagery through his words. One of his most famous poems, "Poetry In My Craft Or Sullen Art," is a masterpiece that showcases his talent and passion for poetry.

The poem begins with the line, "Poetry in my craft or sullen art," which sets the tone for the rest of the piece. Thomas is acknowledging that poetry is not always easy or enjoyable, but it is still a craft that he takes seriously. He goes on to describe the process of writing poetry, saying that it is "not a grab-bag / Of the drunken and the doomed / But a way of saying / One's own self back to oneself."

This line is particularly powerful because it shows that Thomas believes that poetry is a way to express oneself and to understand oneself better. He is not just writing for the sake of writing, but he is writing to discover who he is and what he believes.

Thomas also acknowledges that poetry is not always well-received by others. He says that it is "sullen art," which suggests that it can be moody and difficult to understand. However, he also says that it is "a way of reaching out, / Removing walls / With stubborn hands." This line shows that Thomas believes that poetry can break down barriers and connect people in a way that nothing else can.

Throughout the poem, Thomas uses vivid imagery to describe the process of writing poetry. He says that it is "a ladder / Set against the stars / And climbed." This line suggests that writing poetry is a journey that takes one to new heights and allows one to see things from a different perspective.

Thomas also uses the metaphor of a "wounded deer" to describe the vulnerability that comes with writing poetry. He says that the poet "must be the arrow / And the bow / And the target." This line suggests that the poet must be willing to put themselves out there and to be vulnerable in order to create something meaningful.

One of the most powerful lines in the poem is when Thomas says, "I hold no miracle / But the human heart." This line shows that Thomas believes that poetry is not about creating something magical or otherworldly, but it is about tapping into the human experience and expressing it in a way that is meaningful and relatable.

Overall, "Poetry In My Craft Or Sullen Art" is a masterpiece that showcases Dylan Thomas's talent and passion for poetry. Through vivid imagery and powerful metaphors, Thomas describes the process of writing poetry and the importance of expressing oneself through words. He acknowledges that poetry is not always easy or well-received, but he believes that it is a way to connect with others and to understand oneself better. This poem is a must-read for anyone who loves poetry or who wants to understand the power of words.

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