This poem by Dylan Thomas is not easy to master and is open to personal interpretation … my thoughts are in italics after each stanza …
Light Breaks Where No Sun Shines
Light breaks where no sun shines;
Where no sea runs, the waters of the heart
Push in their tides;
And, broken ghosts with glowworms in their heads,
The things of light
File through the flesh where no flesh decks the bones.
… light only comes from darkness … light can only be recognised in terms of darkness … and the ‘heart pushes’ into new territory not like the sea which comes and goes to the same boundaries … the ‘waters of the heart’ can be equated to spiritual light … they are like ‘broken ghosts with glow-worms’ because such light is latent within the body as an abstraction … and so file through the flesh quite separate from the flesh that decks the bones …
A candle in the thighs
Warms youth and seed and burns the seeds of age;
Where no seed stirs,
A candle in the thighs has sexual connotations as well as representing time … with time the seed of youth is burnt away as a candle burns and no seed is produced
The fruit of man unwrinkles in the stars,
Bright as a fig;
Where no wax is, the candle shows its hairs.
… and with time wrinkled man unwrinkles in the stars … the ‘fruit of man’ – with light as bright as the stars … the fig an appropriate choice of fruit (it was under the fig tree that Buddha received enlightenment) .… and you could say that with time when the candle burns to the end instead of a wick we have the silver hairs of age
Dawn breaks behind the eyes;
From poles of skull and toe the windy blood
Slides like a sea;
Nor fenced, nor staked, the gushers of the sky
Spout to the rod
Divining in a smile the oil of tears.
… light and awareness in general comes from within … and dawn may break unseen (‘behind the eyes’) … ‘blood’, the waters of the heart seeks enlightenment like a spreading sea … but from the sky comes light …the divining rod searching for water spouts… and then ‘a smile’ and oil – coming as a healing to the tears of the search …the rod and oil having religious connotations
Night in the sockets rounds,
Like some pitch moon, the limit of the globes;
Day lights the bone;
Where no cold is, the skinning gales unpin
The winter’s robes;
The film of spring is hanging from the lids.
… night takes its toll … and any warmth is taken by ‘skinning gales’ … when daylight comes it meets the bone … spring will happen hopefully but it is now ‘hanging from the lids’ … this speaks to me of morning light encountering a dark depression in the body
Light breaks on secret lots,
On tips of thought where thoughts smell in the rain;
When logics die,
The secret of the soil grows through the eye,
And blood jumps in the sun;
Above the waste allotments the dawn halts.
… but light has a mystery to its work … subtle and beyond logic … ‘on tips of thought where thoughts smell in the rain’… what a marvellous line … and light comes only when attempt at logic is abandoned … the secret of light comes through the hidden soil of the eye … as a plant would grow from that that’s hidden below the ground … and when spring is here ‘blood jumps in the sun’… an awakening … but what does dawn find ‘above the waste allotments’ no recognition, no response and in such areas dawn is ineffective … perhaps a plea for a response to light
… I’m sure further light will come when I re-read
2 thoughts on “Light Breaks Where No Sun Shines – Dylan Thomas – Analysis”
Posted long ago, but as this is one of my favorite poems, I wanted to respond, mainly regarding the final verse.
Light (perception, understanding, realization) breaks on secret lots (in unexpected, hidden, or pre-conscious ways and places in the mind/heart),
On tips of thought (the hints and elusive beginnings of ideas/perceptions) where thoughts smell in the rain (thoughts/perceptions/recognitions that arise imperceptibly at first but then unmistakably as the earth smells when it starts to rain) ;
When logics die (the determination to analyze and understand and place in an ordered structure, which is, finally/ultimately, the attempt to gain control),
The secret of the soil grows through the eye (the recognition of external reality, objective Truth),
And blood jumps in the sun (what else could a person’s response be at such a revelation/discovery? Exultation and joy would be virtually automatic);
Above the waste allotments the dawn halts (and, knowing that there is objective truth and external reality, the also comes the realization that all times are now, that the only point of experiencing reality is in the present, that God is present only in this present moment.)
At least, that is how I read it.
I believe it is linked to Ezechiel’s book Chapter 37