Cultural depictions of Dylan Thomas

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Dylan Marlais Thomas (1914–1953) was a Welsh poet and writer who — along with his work — has been remembered and referred to by a number of artists in various media.

In art[edit]

Alfred Janes' 1934 portrait of Thomas

In literature[edit]

"....among many of the recognised and lauded lights of the New York poetry scene the allure of Dylan Thomas has faded... They criticise everything from his depth of linguistic complexity to the obvious melodrama of his most well-known works. But what these poetry pontiffs fail to understand was that Thomas was a people's poet, a man that connected song and metre and the concerns of every human being living their lives and suffering the consequences. His work, in its every repetition, fights for the survival and lifeblood or a form that most so-called great poets have moved beyond the reach of the common man ..."

In music[edit]

Settings of Thomas's work[edit]

  • Igor Stravinsky wrote "In memoriam Dylan Thomas: Dirge canons and song" (1954) for tenor voice, string quartet, and four trombones, based on "Do not go gentle into that good night." (Stravinsky and Thomas were considering a joint new opera).[6]
  • Paul Dirmeikis set to music the poems "Song" and "Your Pain Shall Be A Music".
  • American composer Robert Manno set the following poems to music:
    • "Fern Hill" (1973) for baritone and chamber ensemble, premiered in New York City 1974;
    • "And Death Shall Have No Dominion" for chorus and harp (2001), premiered at St. Martin's Church in Laugharne, commemorating the 50th Anniversary of Thomas' death in 2003;
    • "In my craft or sullen art" for baritone and orchestra (2007), serving as 'Dylan's Aria' in a recently completed (2013) full-length opera on Thomas' last days: Dylan & Caitlin (libretto by Welsh playwright Gwynne Edwards).[7][8]
  • Composer David Diamond set I Have Longed to Move Away for voice and piano in 1968.
  • In 1981, American composer William Mayer, set the poem "Fern Hill" to music for a trio of soprano, flute and harp.
  • John Cale set a number of Thomas's poems to music: There was a saviour, Do not go gentle into that good night, On a Wedding Anniversary and Lie still, sleep becalmed, recording them in his 1989 album Words for the Dying and (except for the first one) in his 1992 solo live album Fragments of a Rainy Season. Notable among these is "Do not go gentle into that good night", which he performed on stage in the concert held in Cardiff in 1999 to celebrate the opening of the Welsh Assembly. He also has a song titled "A Child's Christmas in Wales," the title being an homage to Dylan Thomas's work but with different lyrics and subject.
  • In 1996, Belgian composer Henri Lazarof, released Encounters with Dylan Thomas, for soprano & chamber ensemble, comprising ten compositions based on the poet's work; including "Your Pain Shall be a Music", "In My Craft or Sullen Art" and "Shall gods be said to thump the clouds".
  • American vocal group Cantus, performed two poems set to choral works, with music by Kenneth Jennings, on their 2001 album ...Against the Dying of the Light. The two poems are combined under the title "Two Laments on Dylan Thomas".
  • 2002: A Child's Christmas in Wales for SATB choir and orchestra, written by Matthew Harris.[9]
  • 2003: The Dylan Thomas Jazz Suite 'Twelve Poems' set for Quintet and Voice, by Jen Wilson, commissioned by the Dylan Thomas Centre.[10] Issued on CD in 2010.[11]
  • Donovan, in his 2004 album Beat Cafe, set to music the poem "Do not go gentle into that good night".[12]
  • Singer-songwriter Keith James has set a number of Thomas' works to music.[13]
  • 2014: Composer Andrew Lewis set Fern Hill to music for Orchestra and Electronics. This used an actual recording of Thomas' speech, in which Thomas takes the melodic line. The work was premiered at Bangor University on 3 October and was performed by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, as part of the "My Friend Dylan Thomas" event. [14]
  • Rogers and Clarke set The Hand that Signed the Paper to music.

Musical compositions inspired by Thomas works[edit]

In film and television[edit]

Depictions of Thomas[edit]


Passing references in TV, film and popular music[edit]


  1. ^ "Art collections online: National Museum Wales: Dylan Thomas (1914-1953), JANES, Alfred (1911 - 1999)". Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales. 2011. Retrieved 21 March 2011.
  2. ^ "Dylan Thomas (1914-1953)". Retrieved 19 August 2012.
  3. ^ BBC/ Public Catalogue Foundation. "Your Paintings:Rupert Shephard". Art UK. Retrieved 20 November 2013.
  4. ^ Sally Hunter (May 2005). "Shephard, Rupert Norman (1909-1992)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography; OUP 2004; online edn. Retrieved 19 November 2013.
  5. ^ Bukowski, Charles (1973). South of no North. New York: ECCO. pp. 129–132. ISBN 0-87685-190-1.
  6. ^ Bold, Norman (1976). Cambridge Book of English Verse 1939-1975. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 61. ISBN 978-0-521-09840-3.
  7. ^ Archived from the original on October 3, 2013. Retrieved October 3, 2013. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help); Missing or empty |title= (help)
  8. ^ "Robert Manno Chamber Music: Music". Retrieved 2014-07-23.
  9. ^ "Matthew Harris - works". Retrieved 28 August 2014.
  10. ^ "Jazz heritage at Swansea Metropolitan University". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 22 August 2016. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  11. ^ "Dylan Thomas' poetry gets jazzed up for new album". 17 October 2010. Retrieved 22 August 2016.
  12. ^ Fitzsimmons, Mick. "BBC - Music - Review of Donovan - Beat Cafe". Retrieved 22 August 2016.
  13. ^ Owens, David (23 July 2014). "Voices of Richard Burton and Dylan Thomas to be heard in musician Keith James' new tour". Wales Online. Retrieved 23 July 2014.
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Classical and Jazz: Preview - Jazz pianist Stan Tracey to play Dylan Thomas's A Child's Christmas in Wales at Kings Place on December 16 - Camden New Journal". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 22 August 2016. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  16. ^ "LondonJazz: Stan Tracey Quartet - A Child's Christmas Jazz Suite". Retrieved 22 August 2016.
  17. ^ Manno, Robert (music); Edwards, Gwynne (libretto) (2013). "Do Not Go Gentle: An Opera on the Last Days of Dylan Thomas" (PDF).
  18. ^ Manno, Robert (music); Edwards, Gwynne (libretto) (2013). "Do Not Go Gentle: An Opera on the Last Days of Dylan Thomas" (PDF).
  19. ^ "Do Not Go Gentle—The Last Days of Dylan and Caitlin World Premiere Workshop Performance by Robert Manno - Phoenicia Festival of the Voice". Archived from the original on 2016-08-11. Retrieved 22 August 2016. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  20. ^ "Wales at the Oscars". 5 March 2010. Retrieved 1 August 2012.
  21. ^ Oviatt, Ray (4 May 1964). "Alec Guinness Plays Doomed Poet in 'Dylan'". The Blade, Toledo. Retrieved 31 July 2012.
  22. ^ "Dylan: Life and Death of a Poet". Retrieved 1 August 2012.
  23. ^ "Dylan Thomas: Return Journey". Archived from the original on 18 January 2012. Retrieved 15 July 2012. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  24. ^ Gussow, Mel (23 February 1990). "Simulation Of an Artist In Love With Words". The New York Times (subscription needed). Retrieved 27 July 2012.
  25. ^ "The Edge of Love". BBC Film. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
  26. ^ Jackson, James (4 September 2013). "Tom Hollander cast as Dylan Thomas in new drama, A Poet in New York". The Times. Retrieved 25 January 2014.
  27. ^ "New drama by Andrew Davies to mark centenary of Dylan Thomas's birth". BBC. 23 April 2013. Retrieved 25 January 2014.
  28. ^ Guy Lodge Film Critic @guylodge (4 July 2014). "'Set Fire to the Stars' Review: Pleasant Bio Misses Dylan Thomas' Rage". Variety. Retrieved 23 July 2014.
  29. ^ "Desert Island Discs: Dylan Thomas". BBC. Archived from the original on 15 July 2014. Retrieved 30 July 2012. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  30. ^
  31. ^ "Bagpuss creator Oliver Postgate in his own words". Guardian News and Media Limited. 2008-12-09. Retrieved 2008-12-09.
  32. ^ "Song You Need to Know: Better Oblivion Community Center, 'Dylan Thomas'". Jann Wenner. 2019-02-03. Retrieved 2019-03-27.