Under Milk Wood

by

Dylan Thomas

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Reverend Eli Jenkins Character Analysis

Reverend Eli Jenkins is Llareggub’s reverend, preacher, and poet. He addresses the town in the poetic daily sermons he delivers from his doorway, and he is constantly writing, thinking about, reciting, and praising poetry. He dreams of “Eisteddfodau,” which is a Welsh village festival of poets and bards. Jenkins loves Llareggub, though he knows that there are places more magnificent and exciting than the small village. He’s in the process of writing a book the town called the White Book of Llareggub. Though Jenkins knows Llareggub’s citizens “are not wholly bad or good,” he thinks that God will judge them on their goodness and forgive them their sins, and he sees Milk Wood as a symbol of “the innocence of men.”

Reverend Eli Jenkins Quotes in Under Milk Wood

The Under Milk Wood quotes below are all either spoken by Reverend Eli Jenkins or refer to Reverend Eli Jenkins. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Nostalgia  Theme Icon
).
Under Milk Wood Quotes

FIRST VOICE. […] And in Coronation Street, which you alone can see it is so dark under the chapel in the skies, the Reverend Eli Jenkins, poet, preacher, turns in his deep towards– dawn sleep and dreams of

REVEREND ELI JENKINS. Eisteddfodau.

SECOND VOICE. He intricately rhymes, to the music of crwth and pibgorn, all night long in his druid’s seedy nightie in a beer–tent black with parchs.

Related Characters: First Voice (speaker), Reverend Eli Jenkins (speaker), Second Voice (speaker)
Page Number: 23
Explanation and Analysis:

Less than five hundred souls inhabit the three quaint streets and the few narrow by-lanes and scattered farmsteads that constitute this small, decaying watering-place which may, indeed, be called a ‘back-water of life’ without disrespect to its natives who possess, to this day, a salty individuality of their own. The main street, Coronation Street, consists, for the most part, of humble, two-storied houses many of which attempt to achieve some measure of gaiety by prinking themselves out in crude colours and by the liberal use of pinkwash, though there are remaining a few eighteenth-century houses of more pretension, if, on the whole, in a sad state of disrepair. Though there is little to attract the hillclimber, the healthseeker, the sportsman, or the weekending motorist, the contemplative may, if sufficiently attracted to spare it some leisurely hours, find, in its cobbled streets and its little fishing harbour, in its several curious customs, and in the conversation of its local ‘characters,’ some of that picturesque sense of the past so frequently lacking in towns and villages which have kept more abreast of the times.

Page Number: 26
Explanation and Analysis:

A tiny dingle is Milk Wood
By Golden Grove ‘neath Grongar,
But let me choose and oh! I should
Love all my life and longer

To stroll among our trees and stray
In Goosegog Lane, on Donkey Down,
And hear the Dewi sing all day,
And never, never leave the town.

Related Characters: Reverend Eli Jenkins (speaker), Voice of a Guide-Book
Page Number: 28
Explanation and Analysis:

Oh, isn’t life a terrible thing, thank God?

Related Characters: Polly Garter (speaker), First Voice, Second Voice, Reverend Eli Jenkins
Page Number: 34
Explanation and Analysis:

Praise the Lord! We are a musical nation.

Related Characters: Reverend Eli Jenkins (speaker), Polly Garter, Cherry Owen
Page Number: 60
Explanation and Analysis:

We are not wholly bad or good
Who live our lives under Milk Wood,
And Thou, I know, wilt be the first
To see our best side, not our worst.

Related Symbols: Milk Wood/Llareggub Hill
Page Number: 87
Explanation and Analysis:

Llareggub Hill, that mystic tumulus, the memorial of peoples that dwelt in the region of Llareggub before the Celts left the Land of Summer and where the old wizards made themselves a wife out of flowers.

Related Characters: Reverend Eli Jenkins (speaker)
Related Symbols: Milk Wood/Llareggub Hill
Page Number: 91
Explanation and Analysis:

The thin night darkens. A breeze from the creased water sighs the streets close under Milk waking Wood. The Wood, whose every tree–foot’s cloven in the black glad sight of the hunters of lovers, that is a God–built garden to Mary Ann Sailors who knows there is Heaven on earth and the chosen people of His kind fire in Llareggub’s land, that is the fairday farmhands’ wantoning ignorant chapel of bridesbeds, and, to the Reverend Eli Jenkins, a greenleaved sermon on the innocence of men, the suddenly wind–shaken wood springs awake for the second dark time this one Spring day.

Related Symbols: Milk Wood/Llareggub Hill
Page Number: 94-5
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Under Milk Wood LitChart as a printable PDF.
Under Milk Wood PDF

Reverend Eli Jenkins Character Timeline in Under Milk Wood

The timeline below shows where the character Reverend Eli Jenkins appears in Under Milk Wood. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Under Milk Wood
Storytelling and Ordinary Life  Theme Icon
Resilience and Redemption   Theme Icon
Gossip and Community Theme Icon
...listener’s attention to the owls hunting over the cemetery. In the chapel on Coronation Street, Reverend Eli Jenkins dreams of Eisteddfodau. Second Voice elaborates, explaining how the Reverend crafts rhymes in... (full context)
Nostalgia  Theme Icon
Storytelling and Ordinary Life  Theme Icon
Resilience and Redemption   Theme Icon
Gossip and Community Theme Icon
...awaken the sleeping citizens, which he does every day. Second Voice shifts the focus to Reverend Eli Jenkins, who dresses in his preacher’s robe and walks downstairs, opening the front door... (full context)
Intimacy Theme Icon
...who complains about the taste before she’s taken one sip. Mrs. Pugh asks if the Reverend has recited his poetry yet, and when Mr. Pugh confirms that he has, she rises... (full context)
Nostalgia  Theme Icon
Resilience and Redemption   Theme Icon
Gossip and Community Theme Icon
...the boiling water on the stove, which she’ll use to steam open the townspeople’s mail. Reverend Eli Jenkins continues to compose poetry, and Lord Cut-Glass tends to the clocks. Captain Cat... (full context)
Storytelling and Ordinary Life  Theme Icon
Intimacy Theme Icon
Nature vs. Society   Theme Icon
...describes a dream in which Miss Price sits “dripping wet” in his lap, which inspires Reverend Jenkins to call her a “mermaid.” Edwards thinks that Jenkins “a proper Christian,” unlike Cherry... (full context)
Nostalgia  Theme Icon
Storytelling and Ordinary Life  Theme Icon
Intimacy Theme Icon
Nature vs. Society   Theme Icon
Gossip and Community Theme Icon
Reverend Eli Jenkins walks outside the chapel and listens to Polly Garter sing as she scrubs... (full context)
Storytelling and Ordinary Life  Theme Icon
Intimacy Theme Icon
Resilience and Redemption   Theme Icon
Nature vs. Society   Theme Icon
Gossip and Community Theme Icon
Reverend Eli Jenkins praises God for Polly’s heartfelt song and continues on his way to care... (full context)
Nostalgia  Theme Icon
Storytelling and Ordinary Life  Theme Icon
Intimacy Theme Icon
Resilience and Redemption   Theme Icon
Nature vs. Society   Theme Icon
...daydreams of “the dirty old fool” who loves her. First Voice shifts the focus to Reverend Eli Jenkins, who sits in his parlor—his “poem-room”—and writes his “Lifework,” a detailed account of... (full context)
Storytelling and Ordinary Life  Theme Icon
Resilience and Redemption   Theme Icon
Nature vs. Society   Theme Icon
At the Bethsesda House, Reverend Eli Jenkins stands in the doorway and recites a “sunset poem” to Llareggub Hill. In... (full context)
Nostalgia  Theme Icon
Storytelling and Ordinary Life  Theme Icon
Resilience and Redemption   Theme Icon
Nature vs. Society   Theme Icon
...the listener’s attention to the Llareggub hillside, and the accordion music stops. First Voice describes Reverend Eli Jenkins at work in his poem-room, where he writes about Llareggub Hill, calling it... (full context)
Nostalgia  Theme Icon
Storytelling and Ordinary Life  Theme Icon
Intimacy Theme Icon
Resilience and Redemption   Theme Icon
Nature vs. Society   Theme Icon
...God-built garden.” To promiscuous farmhands, the Wood is an “ignorant chapel of bridesbeds.” And to Reverend Eli Jenkins, for whom The Woods are  indicative of “the innocence of men,” the woods... (full context)