Summary and Analysis of In My Craft or Sullen Art by Dylan Thomas: 2022

Introduction to the Poet:

Dylan Marlais Thomas (27 October 1914 – 9 November 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 and Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog. He became widely popular in his lifetime and remained so after his premature 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”.
He was born in Swansea, Wales, in 1914. An undistinguished pupil, he left school at 16 and became a journalist for a short time. Many of his works appeared in print while he was still a teenager; however, it was the publication in 1934 of “Light breaks where no sun shines” that caught the attention of the literary world.  His first published efforts brought Thomas critical praise and honors, including the 1934 Poet’s Corner Prize. 18 Poems drew heavily from the notebooks of collected poems that Thomas wrote as a youth, and it would set off a string of notebook-inspired works such as Twenty Five Poems (1936), The Map of Love (1939) and Deaths and Entrances (1946). Also notable of this period was that it marked the beginning of the poet’s lifelong struggle with alcohol abuse.
After a long drinking bout at Manhattan’s White Horse Tavern, Thomas collapsed at the Chelsea Hotel. He died in a New York City hospital, on November 9, 1953, at the age of 39.

About “In my craft or sullen art:

The poem deals with the art of the poet in the purest form. Rather than earning money, the poetry is a thing of love dealing with the love and philosophy of life. In the most intricate manner, this poem is one of the best of Dylan Thomas style=”font-weight: 400;”>.

Summary of 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,
Ilaborr 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.”
In this poem the poet talks about his own art i.e. poetry. In the beginning he refers to it as “a craft or sullen art”. This means that he considers poetry both as a form of craftsmanship as well as an art filled with loneliness and austerity. He says that he writes in the night under the “raging moon” when lovers are asleep. This here symbolizes source of imagination, inspiration and passion. The lovers are sleeping “with grief in their arms”. This means the person they are holding in their arms are the source of all their grief and the grief of the world. The poet says he “labors by singing light” which is the light of the moon under which the poet works. The poet further says that he does not write for ambition or for money. He doesn’t write for “strut” and “trade of charms on the ivory stages” which means he doesn’t write to show off his talents or skills. His poetry is something much more than that.
The poet says that he writes for common wages which means he writes for common people of the most secret heart. This means that the poet is implying that his poem is for those who has death within them and are unaware of it. He further clarifies that his writing is not for the proud man but rather for those spindrift pages. The poet writes for ordinary people and for every human being who has ever loved. The poet does not work for getting praise or money from the people for who are the subjects in his poem (here lovers) as they may not even read his poems. The poet the words if poem to the spindrift pages this is not right for the proud men who care little for these arts. The poet again he first raging moon as he rides on the spindrift pages further clarifying that he does not right for the towering that that is the famous people or other poets who are dead but again he says that is right or rather creates is art for the lovers their arms holding the groups of Ages meaning the lovers a resilient and tenacious and even though they know that relationships and loving someone is hard but they still continue to do it. The poet then leaves a last remark that he knows that the people for whom or rather about whom his
poems are written will pay little attention to it. They won’t acknowledge the poet’s hard work or pay him and does not pay heed to this art.

Critical Analysis of In My Craft or Sullen Art:

The poem in my craft or sullen art is written by Dylan Thomas. The poem describes the poet’s work as the poet talks about is craft. In the beginning the poet compare his work that is his poetry with craft or sullen art does creating a gray area where he either complements art with craft or shows a distinction between two. The entire poem is about the poet talking to or rather telling his reader. The poet says that his poet addresses the common people. The poet does not write for money or ambition rather it is for the lovers sleeping in each other’s arms. The poet writes not for the famous people or poet.he keeps on writing the poems for lover’s even though he knows they won’t pay heed to his art praise him or pay him. Overall the poem is an attempt made by the poet to let the readers know about his mentality or mindset about his work.

Central Theme of In My Craft or Sullen Art:

The central theme of the poem is about the art of poetry of the poet. The poem emphasizes on the fact that the poet is a self righteous person who does not write for fulfilling any ambition or earning money. The poem deals with the more subtle and deep nature of poetry which deals with or rather dwells in the depth of human nature and philosophy rather than a means of livelihood or a way to show off.

The Tone of In My Craft or Sullen Art:

The poem starts on a sad note as the poet says his art is kind of depressing. The poem becomes a bit sad when the poet mentions that the lovers are asleep with their hands around grief which main mean that the person they are holding are the source to their grief but still they love their . Dial poem is just two lines and is a short lyric with 2 stanzas and well marked rhyme giving a feeling of finality and assurance. The poem is rich in texture and has a mark of terseness to it. The poem does not contain ornamental language or imagery. The first four line and last four lines correspond in rhyme.


On the conclusion, it is best to say that the poem is a deep thought provoking piece that focuses on the beauty and charm  of poetry than monetary gain.
Contributor: Bidisha Das

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