In my craft or sullen art,

Another poem about poetry from Dylan Thomas (see also the poem of his which appeared on this blog on October 13th 2014, “Notes on the art of poetry”). Here he uses a poem to set out why and for whom he writes poetry.

And the title implies his attitude to the act of writing – it is a craft, to be learnt, practised and mastered, it is a sullen art, because it is not easy, finding the right words, the right references, the right sounds, the right rhythms all at once can only come with immense effort and unceasing vigilance to all the parts and to the whole.

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

From <;

Writing poetry is an anti-social art, it is done at night, when everybody is asleep, away from the distractions of the day and of other people. The poet labours alone and in isolation, not for fame and fortune or to have his name in lights, but to feed the language of love, to appeal to the secret heart of all the lovers at peace in their beds.

The poet’s intended audience is not proud and wealthy men, or to praise the dead, but those lovers for whom love is everything and who may not even be aware f the poet’s gift to them.

The Poetry Dude


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