Despite Dylan Thomas’ often obscure images, he expresses a clear message of religious devotion in many of his poems. He creates images that reflect God’s connection with the earth and body. In ‘And death shall have no dominion,’; Thomas portrays the redemption of the soul in death, and the soul’s liberation into harmony with nature and God.
Thomas best depicts his beliefs, though abstract and complicated, to the reader with the use of analogies and images of God’s presence in nature. Appreciating the virtue of humility in ‘Shall gods be said to thump the clouds,’; Thomas associates God with thunder, rainbows, and night only to remind us that He is even more present in a simple stone as He is in other great entities. In ‘The force that through the green fuse drives the flower,’; Thomas again makes the connection of body and earth, implying that there is only one holy force that has created all motion and life on this planet. This force, because it is so pure and boundless, is present in the shadows and poverty of our world, as depicted in ‘Light breaks where no sun shines.
‘; God’s sacred presence in the body and earth is the ultimate theme within these chosen poems. In ‘The force that through the green fuse drives the flower,’; Dylan Thomas illustrates the connection between the earth, the body, and God. He discusses how both nature and man are propelled by the same holy force and therefore are united. He does not propose the question of how the stem grows to create a flower or how blood circulates within the body, but rather what is the ultimate force behind all motion and life on the earth.
‘The force that through the green fuse drives the flower / Drives my green age/…The force that drives the water through the rocks / Drives my red blood;’;In these analogies, Thomas humbles the human race and depicts God’s presence in all natural things, including humans. Thomas reveals that we are not a separate entity, but only part of a greater existence. Aside from the holy force that propels the world, Thomas also examines how we alter the way our lives should naturally progress. Death is a stage of life; as a rose is bent or killed by the cold so should we age and eventually die in due time. However, Thomas analyzes human and natural death further when he writes, ‘And I am dumb to tell the crooked rose / My youth is bent by the same wintry fever. ‘; The difference between the modification of the rose’s life and man’s is that our aging and death is sometimes avoidable, whereas the rose dies naturally when its season is over.
Our chosen lifestyles sometimes impede the natural progression our lives should lead. We alter our lives with our own evil and envy, and, in turn, we destroy ourselves in ways God never intended. ‘And death shall have no dominion’; is another portrayal of life and death as mere stages within the universal process. Despite the poignant analogies in this poem, the refrain has the most significance.
It is a reminder that life does not end in death, and that although death may be unmerciful, our souls will endure regardless and be redeemed. ‘Dead men naked they shall be one / With the man in the wind and the west moon’; succinctly describes Thomas’ view of how, in death, we are as pure and naked as we are in birth, and how only our souls (without clothing and extraneous unnatural hindrances) are redeemed to become one with a greater existence. Once again, Thomas connects God with nature. He reveals that because God is present in nature, when we die our souls are given to God and therefore also given to the beauty of nature. Thomas also explores the grace and glory of the afterlife, where ‘Though they go mad they shall be sane,/…Though lovers be lost love shall not;’; In spite of the use of abstract ideas such as love, religion, and death in the other poems relating to this theme, Thomas’s analogies of the gods with thunder, rainbows, rain, and night demonstrate how nature and the weather are affected