Synopses & Reviews
The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas contains poems that Thomas personally decided best represented his work. A year before its publication Thomas died from swelling of the brain triggered by excessive drinking. (A piece of New Directions history: it was our founder James Laughlin who identified Thomas’ body at the morgue of St. Vincent’s Hospital.)
Since its initial publication in 1953, this book has become the definitive edition of the poet’s work. Thomas wrote “Prologue” addressed to “my readers, the strangers” — an introduction in verse that was the last poem he would ever write. Also included are classics such as “And Death Shall Have No Dominion,” “Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night,” and “Fern Hill” that have influenced generations of artists from Bob Dylan (who changed his last name from Zimmerman in honor of the poet), to John Lennon (The Beatles included Thomas’ portrait on the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band); this collection even appears in the film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road when it is retrieved from the rubble of a bookshelf.
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 their 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.
(From “And Death Shall Have No Dominion”)
Dylan Thomas (1914-1953) prepared this volume in 1952'"the author's choice of the ninety poems he felt would best represent his work up to that time'"and it was published by New Directions in 1953 as The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas, shortly after his death. This book was then and remained, for all practical purposes, Thomas's "collected" poems and in that sense complete. However, with the 1971 publication of the 192 poems in The Poems of Dylan Thomas(also now available in a revised edition), Thomas's Collected Poemshas naturally evolved to become Thomas's Selected Poems.
Thomas wrote his last poem, "Prologue," especially to begin this collection, and addressed it to "my readers, the strangers." Two unfinished poems are included in this edition: "Elegy," prepared by Vernon Watkins, and "In Country Heaven," prepared by Daniel Jones'"both Welsh poets were life-long friends of Dylan Thomas. Textual corrections discovered over the course of forty years have now been incorporated, and a complete index of titles and first lines, as well as a brief chronology of the author's life, have been added.
As it has for half a century, this book includes the best of Dylan Thomas's poetry'""Light Breaks Where No Sun Shines," "The Force that Through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower," "And Death Shall Have No Dominion," "Poem in October," "Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night," "The Hunchback in the Park," "In My Craft or Sullen Art," "In Country Sleep," and Thomas's poignant reflection on his youth, "Fern Hill."
About the Author
The reputation of Welsh poet Dylan Thomas(1914-1953) as one of the greatest poets of the twentieth century has not waned in the fifty years since his death. His work, noted for its lush metaphors, musicality, and playfulness within traditional forms, was largely responsible for modernizing poetic verse. Thomas also wrote captivating short stories, a novella, several screenplays and radio plays, as well as his delightful stage play, Under Milk Wood -- all infused with his passion for the English language and his enduring love of Wales.
Poet and academic Paul Muldoon (b. 1951) won the Pulitzer Prize in 2002 for his collection Moy Sand and Gravel. He currently teaches at Princeton University and is the Poetry Editor for The New Yorker.