In Review: The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas

The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas contains poems that Thomas personally decided best represented his work. A year before its publication Thomas died from swelling of the brain triggered by excessive drinking.

Since its initial publication in 1953, this book has become the definitive edition of the poet’s work. Thomas wrote “Prologue” addressed to “my readers, the strangers” — an introduction in verse that was the last poem he would ever write. Also included are classics such as “And Death Shall Have No Dominion,” “Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night,” and “Fern Hill” that have influenced generations of artists from Bob Dylan (who changed his last name from Zimmerman in honor of the poet), to John Lennon (The Beatles included Thomas’ portrait on the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band); this collection even appears in the film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road when it is retrieved from the rubble of a bookshelf.

The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas is one of my favorite poetry collections. Dylan Thomas is a Welsh poet. His magnificent use of rhyme and meter, including alliteration, flows into my ears like music. His poem, “Fern Hill,” transports readers to a star-filled night and recollection or longing for a childhood “happy as the grass was green.”

Do not go gentle into that good night is a call to action, an urgent reminder that growing old should be an exciting adventure where “Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay.” This collection of exquisite poems will flow into your heart and mind, inspiring you to be grateful for the stars and grass—plus carry an array of verses to share with a hiking buddy.