In my Craft or Sullen Art
"In my Craft or Sullen Art" is a poem written by Welsh poet Dylan Thomas (1914–1953). It was first published in 1946 in Deaths and Entrances. The poem describes a poet who must write for the sake of his craft rather than any material gains that may come from his work.
- In my craft or sullen art
- Exercised in the still night
- When only the moon rages
- And the lovers lie abed
- With all their griefs in their arms,
- I labour by singing light
- Not for ambition or bread
- Or the strut and trade of charms
- On the ivory stages
- But for the common wages
- Of their most secret heart.
- Not for the proud man apart
- From the raging moon I write
- On these spindrift pages
- Nor for the towering dead
- With their nightingales and psalms
- But for the lovers, their arms
- Round the griefs of the ages,
- Who pay no praise or wages
- Nor heed my craft or art.
Use as lyrics
The poem has been set to music on at least two occasions. It was scored for mezzo-soprano and piano in 2001 by Wayne L. Davies as part of a Dylan Thomas song-cycle. It was also provided the basis - and lyrics - for "In my craft or sullen art", a song by New Zealand pop group Mink in 1995. A further musical version - part of an album of songs inspired by Thomas - was released by New Zealand's Chris Matthews and Robot Monkey Orchestra in 2008. In 2008 it was set to music by composer Thomas Hewitt Jones as a tone-poem for Soprano, Piano and Cello, first performed at the Royal Opera House in January 2009. Also appeared on the The Perth County Conspiracy's Does Not Exist album.
In 2009, the London-based Poetry Society used the text of this poem for their "Knit A Poem" project. Each letter of the poem was charted and knit onto a square by volunteers. Spaces and "white space" used knitted blocks without a letter to fill in around the text, also knit by volunteers. More than 850 volunteers from all over the world participated. The poem is cited at the start of the 1971 film 'The Raging Moon' by Bryan Forbes starring Malcolm McDowell and Nanette Newman. The finished poem was 7mx9m and was unveiled on October 7, 2009 in front of the British Library in London.
In the film Strumpet(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strumpet_(film)) Christopher Eccleston paraphrases part of the poem during his recital of John Cooper Clarke's 'Evidently Chickentown'
- YouTube video of Dylan Thomas reading "In my Craft or Sullen Art"
- Official Dylan Thomas website
- Official Poetry Society website