I have gone back to school with Dylan Thomas

I have gone back to school.

Well, not exactly. I have bought myself a book called The Making Of A Poem, A Norton Anthology Of Poetic Forms by Mark Strand and Eavan Boland (publishers W.W.Norton & Company) and I hope it will be my guide whilst I spend some time going back to basics with my poetry.

Each chapter is a wonderfully simple guide to the basic poetic forms with a few technical tips but, most importantly a cluster of interesting and challenging poems in each genre.

I plan to write at least one poem in these forms before moving on to the next chapter and even if I throw them all away when I finish, I am sure that I will have improved my technique by doing this.

Today I am at the beginning and I am working on that devilishly difficult one, the villanelle.

I won’t bore you with an explanation but just draw your attention to the two lines strictly repeated, the three line stanzas and the A.B.A. rhyming pattern. the best thing is just to show you this villanelle by the wonderful Dylan Thomas – reading it again, I am now humbled into silence but I shall still write my own villanelle before I move on:

Dylan Thomas


Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


  1. That's interesting/coincidental that you should write about Dylan Thomas now. It was only today that I was driving along the back roads here in North Carolina, with the family, listening to the original recording (Richard Burton as first voice) of "Under Milk Wood" and revelling in the music of it all.

  2. Oh same here! We studied 'Under Milk Wood' at school. It really is a wonderful piece of writing and superb performance.

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