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Poem in October is a beautiful work by the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas. It centres around celebrating his 30th birthday in his beloved Welsh fishing village of Laugharne. It is a testament to the poet’s profound connection with nature and his struggle with time. The poem is a deeply personal exploration of memory, nostalgia, and the passage of time, set against the backdrop of the Welsh countryside.


Poem in October begins with the poet awakening on his birthday morning and embarking on a solitary walk through the countryside. As he wanders through the landscape, he is filled with a sense of wonder and awe at the beauty of nature around him. He recalls his childhood’s sights, sounds, and sensations, evoking memories of rain-drenched hills, windy harbours, and sea-town streets. This intense natural imagery permeates the poem and reflects Thomas’s investment in pastoral traditions. By aligning his celebration with the richness of the autumn season, Thomas paints a vivid picture of natural beauty and rejuvenation.

As the poem progresses, the focus shifts from observing the outer world to reflecting on the inner world. The walk incites deep personal introspection, symbolising a spiritual journey. The narrator finds himself plunged into a childlike state, reflecting on his past with joy and nostalgia. The natural world catalyses this reflection on youth and the awareness of the passage of time.

The poem’s tone shifts from the jubilation of existence to a painful recognition of mortality, reflecting Thomas’s vexed relationship with the passage of time, ageing, and death. He reflects on the changes that have taken place in his life since his youth and the loss of innocence that comes with growing older. The poet toggles between an enchanting natural world and the realities of ageing, emphasising the tension between life’s beauty and its inherent ephemerality. The dichotomy between celebration and lamentation is a recurring theme. This is reflected in the shift in tone as the poem progresses, transitioning from a celebration of life and nature’s grandeur to a poignant realisation of life’s transience and the inevitable passage of time.

The poem then oscillates between nature’s exuberance and ageing’s melancholy. Despite celebrating the beauty of existence, the poet can’t help but confront the reality of his mortality. Eventually, the poem concludes with the sentiment of acceptance. In the poem’s final lines, the poet acknowledges the fleeting nature of life and the beauty of the present moment. He finds solace in the sea’s rhythm and the natural world’s timeless beauty, embracing the passage of time with a sense of reverence and wonder. The poet reconciles his struggle with time, ageing, and death, emphasising life’s fleeting yet beautiful nature. Thomas leaves the reader with the idea that each moment of life, regardless of its impermanence, is worth cherishing.

Dylan Thomas


In Poem in October, the poet seems to pass into a supernatural, transcendental state where he reverts to childlike innocence and experiences the world anew. There’s a nostalgic longing for his childhood as he turns 30, and this deeply personal reflection enables him to engage with the universal theme of the passage of time. Themes of rebirth and renewal are prominent. Despite the melancholy undertones of the poem, there is also a sense of acceptance and gratitude for the experiences and memories that have shaped him.

Thomas masterfully uses naturalistic imagery throughout the poem, demonstrating his deep connection to the environment and his skills in capturing it in words. This connection is powerfully nostalgic and serves as a celebration of his journey into adulthood and a lament for the loss of childhood innocence.

The use of language is exceptionally lyrical, with an attention to rhythm and internal rhyme. This demonstrates his skill as a craftsman of verse and his ability to create poetic music that further enhances the scenic descriptions and emotional depth. His ability to marshal rhythm, rhyme, and lyrical language enhances the poem’s visual and emotional richness. This mastery of verse is integral to Thomas’s work, adding a musicality that heightens the sensory experience of his poetry.

Evocative Imagery

One of the most striking aspects of Poem in October is its evocative imagery, which transports the reader to the lush landscapes of Thomas’s childhood memories. The poem is filled with vivid descriptions of nature—the rain-drenched hills, the windy harbour, and the sea-town streets—which come alive through Thomas’s rich sensory language. Through his masterful use of imagery, Thomas creates a vivid and immersive world that captures the beauty and nostalgia of the Welsh countryside.

Exploration of Memory and Nostalgia

Poem in October is a profoundly introspective poem that explores the themes of memory and nostalgia. Thomas reflects on his past, revisiting the scenes of his childhood and tracing time from youth to adulthood. The poem is imbued with longing and melancholy as Thomas grapples with the inevitability of change and the loss of innocence that comes with growing older. Through his poignant reflections, Thomas captures the universal experience of nostalgia and the longing to recapture the innocence and wonder of youth.

Rhythmic Language and Sound

As with much of Thomas’s poetry, Poem in October is characterised by its rhythmic language and musicality. Thomas’s rhyme, rhythm, and repetition create a hypnotic cadence that draws the reader into the poem’s lyrical world. The poem’s musicality enhances its emotional resonance, heightening the sense of nostalgia and longing that permeates the verse. Through his mastery of language and sound, Thomas invites the reader to experience the poem as a sensory journey through time and memory.

Celebration of Nature

Nature plays a central role in Poem in October, serving as a backdrop for the poet’s reflections and a source of solace and inspiration. Thomas’s reverence for the natural world is evident throughout the poem, as he describes the beauty of the Welsh landscape with awe and wonder. The changing seasons and shifting landscapes mirror the poet’s inner journey as he navigates the complexities of memory, time, and mortality. Through his celebration of nature, Thomas invites the reader to find solace and meaning in the natural world, even in the face of life’s inevitable changes.

Universal Themes

While Poem in October is deeply rooted in Thomas’s personal experiences, its themes of memory, nostalgia, and the passage of time are universal in their resonance. The poem speaks to the universal human experience of ageing and the longing to recapture the innocence and wonder of youth. Through his poignant reflections, Thomas captures the bittersweet beauty of life’s journey, inviting readers to reflect on their memories and experiences of growing older.

Poem in October is a journey that simultaneously celebrates life and reflects on its fleeting nature. It showcases Thomas’s spiritual connection with nature and his tension between nostalgia and the passage of time, culminating in a celebration of existence articulated through his sheer mastery of language and imagery. It is an evocative exploration of life’s joys and anxieties, viewed through the lens of personal experience and the ebb and flow of the natural world. Thomas invites the reader to share his journey with this poem, encouraging us to reflect on our relationships with time, ageing, and the world around us.

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Devika Panikar
δάσκαλος (dáskalos) means the teacher in Greek. Devika Panikar has been teaching English Language and Literature since 2006. She is an Assistant Professor with the Directorate of Collegiate Education under the Government of Kerala. She teaches at the Government Colleges under this directorate and is now posted at the Government Law College, Thiruvananthapuram. This website is a collection of lecture notes she prepared by referencing various sources for her students’ perusal. It has been compiled here for the sake of future generations.