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The Hand That Signed the Paper
Transcript of The Hand That Signed the Paper
By: Dylan Thomas
Reviewed By: Everton James
The Hand That Signed the Paper
BY DYLAN THOMAS
The hand that signed the paper felled a city;
Five sovereign fingers taxed the breath,
Doubled the globe of dead and halved a country;
These five kings did a king to death.
The mighty hand leads to a sloping shoulder,
The finger joints are cramped with chalk;
A goose’s quill has put an end to murder
That put an end to talk.
The hand that signed the treaty bred a fever,
And famine grew, and locusts came;
Great is the hand that holds dominion over
Man by a scribbled name.
The five kings count the dead but do not soften
The crusted wound nor stroke the brow;
A hand rules pity as a hand rules heaven;
Hands have no tears to flow.
Mentioned Sovereignty (Royal rank, authority, or power)
Bitterness and horror
The second stanza begins with a reference to God, to divine power: God is Almighty, that hand can be so mighty as God.
He then showed the fingers of the hand as individual kings, as powerful men (The five kings)
Then he compared the hand of the man with God’s hand.
"The" is used for significant emphasis
Metaphors (All over)
Alliteration (stanza 2, line 1)
Simile (stanza 4, line 3)
References to war.
The rhyme skim is ABAB
Every line is capitalized
Every stanza ends with a full stop.
Biographical Information About Poet
Born: 27 October 1914 Uplands, Swansea, Glamorgan, Wales
Died: 9 November 1953 (aged 39) New York City, United States
Occupation: Poet and writer Literary movement Modernism, Neo-romanticism
Spouse(s): Caitlin Macnamara (m. 1937–1953, his death) Children Llewelyn Edouard Thomas (1939–2000) Aeronwy Bryn Thomas (1943–2009) Colm Garan Hart Thomas (1949–2012)
"A hand rules pity as a hand rules heaven" to sum everything up hands are very powerful and are equally to the power of God.
Sovereign: belonging to a monarch, powerful
Goose's quill: an old-fashioned quill pen
Locusts: insects that gather in vast swarms and strip the land of vegetation
Dominion: power, rule, authority
Crusted: covered with dried blood
This poem was published in 1935, in the middle of a decade marked by international unrest. But the poet does not set his poem in his own time. Taking an imaginary historical story, he uses the stark tale to say something about the power and ruthlessness of kings and rulers.
Bell, Andrew M. "Tuesday Poem: The Hand That Signed the Paper by Dylan Thomas (1914-1953)." Tuesday Poem: The Hand That Signed the Paper by Dylan Thomas (1914-1953). Blogger, 9 Nov. 2010. Web. 06 Dec. 2013.
"Poetry and War - Responsibility." Poetry and War - Responsibility. Learn Peace, n.d. Web. 06 Dec. 2013.
Thomas, Dylan. "The Hand That Signed the Paper." By Dylan Thomas : The Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation, n.d. Web. 06 Dec. 2013.