I heard a concert Saturday night that included a new piece for unaccompanied chorus by Bruce Chalmer, a setting of the poem “Clown in the Moon” by Dylan Thomas. I liked the music. I loved the poem. It’s one that I’ve never known.

I can’t tell you exactly why I responded so strongly, but it made me want to read some more Dylan Thomas poems, so I did. I now have – tentatively – the words for a new piece I want to write.

Does this poetry stir up music in your mind? If so, let me know. If not, go smoke some pot. (OK, that’s not exactly medical advice, but it’s my fervent wish for you to be as turned on by the poems as I am.)

Dylan Thomas lovers please forgive that I only want to set the first verse of “And Death Shall Have No Dominion.”


Shall Gods Be Said To Thump The Clouds

Shall gods be said to thump the clouds

When clouds are cursed by thunder,

Be said to weep when weather howls?

Shall rainbows be their tunics’ colour?

When it is rain where are the gods?

Shall it be said they sprinkle water

From garden cans, or free the floods?

Shall it be said that, venuswise,

An old god’s dugs are pressed and pricked,

The wet night scolds me like a nurse?

It shall be said that gods are stone.

Shall a dropped stone drum on the ground,

Flung gravel chime? Let the stones speak

With tongues that talk all tongues.

Clown In The Moon

My tears are like the quiet drift

Of petals from some magic rose;

And all my grief flows from the rift

Of unremembered skies and snows.

I think, that if I touched the earth,

It would crumble;

It is so sad and beautiful,

So tremulously like a dream.

And Death Shall Have No Dominion

And death shall have no dominion.

Dead man naked they shall be one

With the man in the wind and the west moon;

When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,

They shall have stars at elbow and foot;

Though they go mad they shall be sane,

Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;

Though lovers be lost love shall not;

And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.

Under the windings of the sea

They lying long shall not die windily;

Twisting on racks when sinews give way,

Strapped to a wheel, yet they shall not break;

Faith in their hands shall snap in two,

And the unicorn evils run them through;

Split all ends up they shan’t crack;

And death shall have no dominion.


And death shall have no dominion.

No more may gulls cry at their ears

Or waves break loud on the seashores;

Where blew a flower may a flower no more

Lift its head to the blows of the rain;

Though they be mad and dead as nails,

Heads of the characters hammer through daisies;

Break in the sun till the sun breaks down,

And death shall have no dominion.