“And Death Shall Have No Dominion” (A Few Words for Wednesday)

I know, Welsh poet Dylan Thomas (1914–1953) was an agnostic, and this poem hardly offers a Christian world view. It takes shots at the Inquisition (“twisting on racks”) and offers a vision of the afterlife that is antic, caustic, not Catholic. Still, and although he died a drunken mess when I was but two, I have always loved Thomas’s poetry, ever since Mr. Griswold taught us “Fern Hill” in eighth grade.

Thomas More was a great believer in meditating on the Four Last Things: death, judgment, hell, and heaven. Here’s an opportunity. Whether it is ironic or positive, or both, “And Death Shall Have No Dominion” is a fitting poem for this time of year, don’t you think? In such beauty God reveals Himself.

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 breaks down,
And death shall have no dominion.

Now that you’ve had a chance to read it to yourself, listen to Dylan Thomas reading it.

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  • Anonymous

    Romans 6: 9-14 9 – For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; DEATH HATH NO DOMINION OVER HIM! 10 – The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.11- In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 – Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 – Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. 14 – For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.


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