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Personal Choice 16

In My Craft or Sullen Art

In 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.

Dylan Thomas

Dylan Thomas (1914 – 1953) was a Welsh poet and writer whose works include the poems Do not go gentle into that good night and And death shall have no dominion, the ‘play for voices’ Under Milk Wood, and stories and radio broadcasts such as A Child's Christmas in Wales. He became widely popular in his lifetime and remained so after his death at the age of 39 in New York City. By then, he had acquired a reputation, which he had encouraged, as a ‘roistering, drunken and doomed poet’. Although Thomas wrote exclusively in the English language, he has been acknowledged as one of the most important Welsh poets of the 20th century. He is noted for his original, rhythmic, and ingenious use of words and imagery. He is regarded as one of the great modern poets.

Poets have always had a licence to invent new words, and many have done so with both historic influence and a wonderful contribution to the language. The other technique the poet has always employed and been forgiven for, and in the most part been encouraged - is an almost excessive engagement with exaggeration. The hyperbole that Thomas employs in this superb example of his work seems to sum up the poet’s craft and calling almost perfectly.


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