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"In My Craft or Sullen Art"

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by

Avery Sebben

on 11 December 2013

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Transcript of "In My Craft or Sullen Art"

Patterns
Two stanzas long
1st stanza has 11 lines, 2nd stanza has 9 lines
First four lines and last four lines of each stanza correspond in rhyme
"In My Craft or Sullen Art"
By Dylan Thomas

Patterns & Irony
Metaphor, Symbols, and Sound & Sense
Literary Devices
Patterns Continued
Trochaic meter in lines 1, 13, 14, & 16
The stressed, unstressed accents in this meter create a machine-like sound
This effect contributes to the purpose of this poem because machines do their jobs, whether or not they are appreciated.
Thomas writes in the same fashion - automatically, even though his work is not appreciated
Irony
Achieves irony = FORMALIST SUCCESS
Obvious in the last two lines of each stanza
He writes poetry for the lovers whom he wants to appreciate it, but they do not
Explains why writing is a "sullen art"
Metaphor
Lovers through the ages (17-18)
As it is human nature for people to have passion and to love, it is just as innate for Thomas to produce poetry

"But for the lovers, their arms / Round the griefs of the ages" (17-18)
Symbols
Darkness
Ambiguous
Our interpretation:
He works in the dark - no one sees his work or him working
No one can see the light of his poetry
The moon is the light because it sees his work
"singing light" (6)
Symbols Continued
"Nor for the towering dead" (15)
Symbolic for all the great poets of the past
Thomas does not write under the shadow of the poets before him

"Nor for the towering dead / With their nightingales and psalms" (15-16)
Sound & Sense
Thomas uses less obvious power of sound, but sound is still significant
The sense of the poem (sullen and melancholy) is enforced by word choice
Allusion
"An indirect or passing reference to some event, person, place, or artistic work" (Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms)
"Nor for the towering dead / With their nightingales and psalms" (15-16)
Thomas alludes to the subject matters of the predecessors of his "craft"
Reinforces that he is not writing under their shadows
Enjambment
"The running over of the sense and grammatical structure from one verse line or couplet to the next without a punctuated pause" (Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms)
"Not for ambition or bread / Or the strut and trade of charms / On the ivory stages" (7-9)
"Not for the proud man apart / From the raging moon I write / On these spindrift pages" (12-14)
1 In my craft or sullen art
Exercised in the still night
When only the moon rages
And the lovers lie abed
5 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
10 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
15 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
20 Nor heed my craft or art.

Purpose
For ages, writing poetry has been a
melancholy craft because the poet is
driven to write regardless of
recognition or appreciation.
Quick Rundown
Thomas's poem not only speaks of who and what he writes his poem for, but also speaks of who and what he does NOT write for. He writes "Not for ambition or bread" (7), but instead for the lovers, and "for the common wages / Of their most secret heart" (10-11). He does not write "for the proud man apart" (12) nor does he write "for the towering dead" (15). He reiterates that he writes for the lovers; the same lovers "Who pay no praise or wages / Nor heed my craft or art" (19-20).
Rhyme
art (1) & apart (12)
night (2) & write (13)
rages (3) & pages (14)
abed (4) & dead (15)
charms (8) & arms (17)
stages (9) & ages (18)
wages (10) & wages (19)
heart (11) & art (20)
Trochaic Lines
"In my craft or sullen art" (1)
"From the raging moon I write" (13)
"On these spindrift pages" (14)
"With their nightingales and psalms" (16)
Ironic Lines
"But for the common wages / Of their most secret heart" (10-11)
"Who pay no praise or wages / Nor heed my craft or art" (19-20)
Darkness
"Exercised in the still night / When only the moon rages" (2-3)

"From the raging moon I write" (13)
Word Choice
"when only the moon rages" (3)
"spindrift pages" (14)
"lovers . . . with all their griefs" (4-5)
Sound & Sense Continued
Assonance - "the repetition of identical or similar vowel sounds in the stressed syllables" (Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms)
Use of long vowels
adds heaviness to the lines, attributing to the sullen and heavy tone of the work
Examples of Assonance
"Not for the proud man apart" (12)
"Who pay no praise or wages" (19)
Ambiguity
"Openness to different interpretations" (Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms)
The symbols Thomas utilizes (darkness and the towering dead) are ambiguous symbols
We were able to interpret them in ways which supported our purpose for the poem
Why Enjambment Works
Enjambment is fitting in this poem because the thought literally pushes from one line to the next
Thomas is essentially doing the same thing. He does not stop because no one is paying attention to his work; he continues to write
It is also important to note that the enjambment occurs when Thomas speaks of what he is NOT writing for. He does not stop at what he is writing for; he pushes on to go one step further
Explication by
Avery Sebben
&
Mary Robbin Pittard

Conclusion
Through the use of poetic elements such as pattern, sound, irony, and other literary devices, Dylan Thomas achieves poetic unity. These elements work together to support the poem's purpose that the art of poetry is a melancholy craft.
Full transcript