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Modernism In And Death Shall Have No Dominion English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 636 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The specific features signified by ” modernism” vary with the user, but most critics agree that it involves a deliberate and radical break with some of the traditional bases both of Western culture and of Western art in the first half of the 20th century. Modernism refers to a cultural movement that strongly revolts against the traditional literary forms and concepts of art, architecture, religion, culture, civilization and literature after the effects of World War I. Modernists believed that art should represent the modern industrialized society, ” make it new” as the American poet Ezra Pound put it, by violating the conventions and rules. Dylan Thomas is considered one of the most important modernist poets of the 20th century. In my essay I will attempt to analyse the modernist techniques in Thomas’s poem, ” And Death shall have no dominion.” Published in Thomas’ book 25 poems (1936).

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Thomas’s title and refrain is drawn from the verse Romans 6:9 from the bible. “Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.” [2] Comparing the resurrection of Christ to the resurrection of dying men. Death shall have no claim over man just like death had no claim in Christ. Although this might make the poem look like a Christian religious poem it is not. Thomas was a surrealist and uses elements like imagery, symbolism and the spiritual world to explain death.

They shall have stars at elbow and foot.

Not only shall the dead men live on, they shall be honored with stars on their elbow and foot. Here Thomas uses symbolism and imagery comparing the dead men with Orion, often referred to as The Hunter, a prominent constellation located on the celestial equator and visible throughout the world. It is one of the largest, most conspicuous, and most recognizable constellations in the night sky. Signifying, perhaps that the dead men and are now alive in the shape of a natural element, and will be visible from a far just like Orion is visible to the naked eye. But Thomas could also be referring to Greek Mythology. In Greek mythology Orion is killed and the gods raise him to the sky. [3] Again Thomas writes that the soul of the dead men shall shine and have an eternal place in the heavens or space.

In the last stanza Thomas is being nostalgic about nature in the first five lines. The powerful sounds of sea gulls, the waves breaking and the flowers blowing in the wind. These sounds will not be heard anymore. Thomas then describes how a flower dies because it is no longer able to lift its head because of the heavy raindrops. Thomas then rejects this notion by suggesting that this flower will rise again and break the sun until the sun breaks down. Just like the flower, the dead men will live again through the forces of nature.

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Thomas comparison of death with nature seems to comfort us/him that death is not the end of life but merely a transit for the beginning of a new life transformed into an element in nature. Although Thomas uses many religious aspects of death he contradicts them with the imagery he uses in the poem. By using imagery Thomas breaks with the conventional familiar way of perceiving death. Thomas does this in several works. Death is a subject he often writes about. In most works Thomas refuses to mourn or accept death. In a way you could argue that by seeing death as a beginning of new life through nature, Thomas was comforting himself with the unity of man and nature.


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