Exploring Language


We are not wholly bad or good, who live our lives under Milk Wood.


Burton and stone 


Significance of the the first voice:

  • It opens the play ‘lets begin at the beginning’ and introduces us to all of the characters, without passingjudgement so that we can make our own decisions about characters
  • The First voice sets the scene of Llareggub, using metaphors and alliteration so that we can see the scenes in front of us.The alliteration makes the play flow in a poetic way so that it is pleasing for the listener to listento.
  • As we can’t see the lives and settings, the First Voice, through vivid vocabulary, metaphors and alliteration gives us a picture in our minds of what is going on in the play
  • By using imperatives like ‘Look’ and ‘Listen’ this draws in the attention of the listeners so that they can fullysubmerge themselves in the lives of the people


Dylan Thomas wrote about his love of words what mattered was the sound of them”, and in an interview during Thomas’s American lecture tours Thomas states:

“Do I deliberately utilise devices of rhyme, rhythm, and word-formation in my writing- I must, of course, answer with an immediate, yes. I am painstaking, conscientious, involved and devious craftsman in words… I use everything to make my poems work and move in directions I want them to: old tricks, new tricks, puns, portmanteau-words, paradox, allusion, paronomasia, slang, assonantal rhymes, vowel rhymes, sprung rhythm. Every device there is in language is there to be used if you will.”

Under Milk Wood is rich in its use of poetic techniques, especially sound effects, and language that appeals to the senses. Techniques frequently used by Dylan Thomas are:

DISSONANCE – an approximate rhyme in which vowels disagree and consonants agree eg. goat-gate.

ASSONANCE – an approximate rhyme in which consonants disagree and vowels agree eg. rake-pain.

ALLITERATION – repetition of the same consonant sounds eg. “In the blind-drawn dark dining-room of School House, dusty and echoing as a dining room in a vault…

ONOMATOPOEIA – words that imitate the sound of what they mean eg. crash, zoom, hiss, chop.

PERSONIFICATION – an inanimate object given human characteristics eg. “The sunny slow lulling afternoon yawns…


Dylan Thomas also employed the extensive use of imagery, in particular:

SIMILES – when one thing is compared to another using the words as or like eg. the sea is like a big, blue blanket or the sea is as grey as stainless steel

METAPHORS – when one thing is compared to another, NB not using the words as or like eg. the sea is an angry dog .



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