Under Milk Wood
By Dylan Thomas
Review by Megan G (Classics and English)
Before reading Under Milk Wood, poetry had never really made much sense to me. I could read novels for days on end and plays were always fun to act out in class, but poetry had always seemed sort of stuffy and confusing. Under Milk Wood changed this entirely. When I say that I “read” this poem I actually mean that I heard it. Dylan Thomas wrote it as a radio drama so my first encounter was through hearing a BBC version read entirely by Welsh celebrities.
I would highly recommend approaching the poem in this way as it is only through hearing the words that I started to understand the beautiful rhythm and sound that poetry is so full of. Dylan Thomas is wonderfully creative with language and showed me for the first time how poetry has its own unique voice. Do not let summaries of Under Milk Wood put you off, since, although the poem is pretty much about a sleepy Welsh village, it is about so much more than that.
Thomas was a rebel at heart – why else would he write “rage against the dying of the light!” – so Under Milk Wood is a poem of rebellion and subversion in language. Whether you love poetry or hate it (as I used to!), I would highly recommend Under Milk Wood. It is far from the Shakespeare sonnets that we get so used to studying in school and I believe it will cast a new light on your experience of literature. I hope that it may even spark a passion for poetry!
Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas