Week 74: In My Craft or Sullen Art, by Dylan Thomas

I have to confess that the poetry of Dylan Thomas is for the most part not to my taste, its art too artful, its verbal richness cloyingly contrived. But the case is not a simple one: here and there a genuinely inspired phrase will flash out, and in this wistful, tender lyric, for example, I think we see the poet he had it in him to be.

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 labor 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