Death For All, All For Death

1197 words - 5 pages

Many people usually never think about the way they will die or how they will be remembered. No one will ever exactly know what to expect but creative writers help readers understand the inevitable path everyone will eventually take. In the poem “And Death Shall Have No Dominion” by Dylan Thomas, he explains how death will happen to everyone but the memory of those dead will be remembered. Similar to the powerful poem by Thomas, Michael Robbins’ recent poem “Not Fade Away” reminds the readers about the music artists whom have died and their legacies that carry on through different generations but in the end he is afraid to die. Both poems are inspired by older works of literature and share the common theme of death with their use of imagery despite not having similar characteristics like rhythm and rhyme scheme.
First, both poems are influenced by older pieces of literature dating back to the bible and the ninth century. Thomas’ uses a repeated phrase, “and death shall have no dominion”, to send a powerful message for readers to understand that death will not be the conqueror. The meaning of “and death shall have no dominion” says that death will not conquer all, so one should have hope. This phrase “And death shall have no dominion” comes from “a bible reference to the book of Romans 6:9, in which Paul says that ‘knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him’” (Cabral 84). Writing poetry with familiar phrases from the bible or other works of literature allows poems to reach a larger audience and become relatable. Robbins does not use a repeated phrase like Thomas, however the last sentence in his poem, “Timor mortis contrurbat me” is derived from the medieval poem “Lament for the Makaris” by William Dunbar. It translates from Latin to “the fear of death consumes me” which is the opposite of Thomas’ poem. However, Robbins poem reflects a modern day version of a medieval poem that reaches “generations of readers” (Cunningham 39) and is able to connect the present day reader. Although the main message from the writers is opposite, both carefully use the inspiration of older works of literature to write their poems
Further, using death as a main theme for poems can be usually dark and gloomy, however Thomas and Robbins make the negative idea of death into a positive one with the ability to leave your loved ones with a legacy of your own. They share creative imagery to help convey the message that death does destroy ones physical being but their spirit lives on by the people who love and admired them. In the Journal of Evolutionary Psychology, Theresa Crater claims, “death is a means of claiming status” (149) so one can prepare carefully. In Thomas’ poem he provides the reader with imagery about how the dead will reunite with nature and how their legacy lives on after that. Thomas depicts:
Dead man naked they shall be one
With the man in the wind and the west moon…
Though they sink through the sea...

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