Analysis Of “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” Poem

The cycle of life always ends in death, but the formidable aspect of death is not necessarily death itself, but the perception of timing and maybe how it happens. We all know that death will be our fate someday, but how we accept or how we deal with it is left to each being. Mark Twain states that “The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die anytime” which means people’s fear of death stems from their fear of living, and this terrible emotion takes over people’s lives and prevents them from living each day fully. In Dylan Thomas’ Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night, he portrays the certainty of death through clear themes, poetic devices, and word choice. 

'Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night' bemoans death's obligation and inevitability, pushing the vulnerable to protest their destiny. The poem implies that we should leave this world (to use an old cliché) the way we came through-kicking and screaming, clutching on to life for just about everything we're worth. Mortality, and family, are the most evident themes depicted in this poem. 

During this poem's time the narrator was witnessing his father's death. The statement 'good night' corresponds to death — where 'good night' applies to all people as we say farewell and the dying person who drifts into their final sleep. Specifically, though, this poem wants people to know 'not to go gentle' into death and dissolution. The word ' gentle ' here means muted, or obedient, and without opposition. To simply put, Thomas advises readers that they should not roll over and accept death but instead contest (or 'rage') against it ('the dying of the light'). It is worth noting that this is not a poem about victory over death, while Thomas urges readers to fight against death, its eventually inevitable for all beings. The poem's characters don't cheat death so they can live another day. Therefore, 'Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night' focuses on the actual final choice of a person: not about whether to die or not, but how they will meet the unavoidable. The theme of the family suggests the intensity of important family bonds. It also operates by alternating roles – the son, not the father, gives advice and the father, not the son, is vulnerable and in need of support and assistance. The speaker abruptly shakes it up in the final stanza of 'Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night'. While the speaker has spent most of the poem talking in broad terms — among other things about 'wise men' and 'good men '— (Thomas) he unexpectedly addresses someone specific: his father. That affects how one reads the poem: it feels deeply intimate. The poem offers basic guidance on how to face death with dignity, but it is also a profound and personal letter from a son to his dying father. Come to understand that life has value and they must strive to make the most of their time here on earth. This renders the poem to sound universal: it extends to everyone its advice on how to face death with dignity. But in the final stanza of the poem, the speaker admits he or she is addressing his or her father. After that point, the poem seems far less universal. It then becomes intensely personal. Yet the speaker avoids disclosing, for a reason, that the poem is devoted to his or her father until the very end of the poem. 

The speaker intends to give the reader room to identify the poem, to think over how it pertains to their lives, before situating the speaker's own life in the specific, personal context. Without tools like hammers, wrenches, and saws, you couldn't build a house. The same goes for poetry: when a poet 'builds' a poem, they need the right instruments for the job. Enjambment is the poetic technique where the line breaks in a poem happen in the middle of a sentence. (When a line ends with a punctuation mark, it's called an end stop.) With that said, enjambment works as a way for a poet to build both tension and motion within a poem. The tension stems from the fact that at the end of a sentence the thinking of the poet isn't done. Every enjambment stanza is a mini cliffhanger which makes the audience want to keep reading to find out what is going to happen next. 

In 'Do not go gentle into that good night,' enjambment happens in about half the stanzas. One good example of enjambment and how it works comes in stanza five, where Thomas writes, 'Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight/Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay.' (Thomas) Enjambment creates drama in these sections and helps Thomas to play a bit with words. The grave men can see in the first line with 'blinding sight' which means they can look back on their lives and see it of absolute clarity. But in the next paragraph, instead of showing us what the men see, Thomas is twisting things. Literal blindness can be inferred from 'blind eyes'. Individuals often lose their eyesight in old age, but this does not mean they cannot see their history in their memories. In their blind eyes their memories 'blaze;' in other words, despite their age, the happiness of a well-lived life shows in their expressions. Enjambment creates drama in this case and lets Thomas a) bring an unexpected twist into his poem, and b) represent the rush of excitement and joy that the 'grave people' feel in the structure of his poem. One of the best-known works by the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas is this poem 'Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night'. Which identifies as a villanelle. 

Beginning with the first line, some poetic devices used are an extended metaphor in which day is life, the night is the afterlife or avoid, and sunset is the moment of death. Entering the dusk, observing nightfall and the last flickering evening light throughout the poem will remind us how quickly – and eventually – life fades away from us. The first line is also a refrain in the poem, repeated a total of four times. All this sound plays ties the line together into a tidy package, making the words go together, even though they're full of harsh, hard sounds. Lines four through six relies on intense and puzzling imagery, a lightning bolt that isn't forked or split by the words of wise men. Lines thirteen and fourteen presents us with a paradox: the dying men who have gone blind can still 'see,' at least in a metaphorical sense. The paradox and the images surrounding it are emphasized by more over-the-top alliteration: 'blinding,' 'blind,' 'blaze,' and 'be.' (Thomas) Three of these four words repeat a bl consonant pair in addition to the initial b sound, making the alliteration even more noticeable. Lines seven through fifteen in this poem utilize parallelism because it describes the acts of the various types of men. Each of these three stances begins by listing the type of men involved and then by explaining something the group of men did. The speaker finishes each by reminding the reader that these men are not going to let themselves die without a fight. Finally line seventeen the speaker creates an oxymoron by asking his father to 'Curse' but also to 'bless' him. 

Visual Imagery is used the most in “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night”. In the second tercet, the speaker says, 'wise men at their end know dark is right, /Because their words had forked no lightning' (Thomas). Forked lightning is a kind of lightning in the line of light separating into several smaller lines close to the bottom. In the third tercet, 'Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright/Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay' (Thomas) also expresses anger against death. The 'last wave by' (Thomas) picture is a vivid illustration of the last wave that is about to crash. The bay is green because it is bordered by life, plants, and algae. One can perceive the last wave as this: the recent generation is like the wave about to crash onto the shore. When these good men are about to leave this earth, they might have boogied brightly against death by 'crying' their deeds. 

'Do not Go Gentle into That Good Night' as we discussed is written in a villanelle form. The rhyme scheme of this poem is ABA ABA ABA ABA ABA ABAA. here are only two rhymes and there are two refrains. The refrains, the first line, and the third line, are repeated four times in the poem: the first line is repeated in the last line of the second and fourth tercet and the last-to-second line of the sixth tercet, and the third line is repeated in the third line of the third and fifth tercet and the last line in the sixth tercet. The use of repetition of the two refrains 'Do not go gentle into that good night' and 'Rage, rage against the dying of the light' (Thomas) is one effective device. The two-refrain form working musical miracles in the poem and proceed to underline and deepen the poem's themes. The first and third lines of the opening tercet alternate as a refrain in the four following tercets and the last two lines of the concluding quatrain. Such a challenging constraint requires poetic creativity for a meaningful speech to proceed. Here the form provides the poet with an apt structure for his four characteristic styles — nice, wild, and grave people — and helps him to balance these types with the character of his father. This refrain reflects one of the main themes: Death without resistance should not be acknowledged. Through selecting and grouping sounds into smooth and friendly sounding (euphonic) or rough and harsh sounding (cacophonous) the poet may reinforce meaning through sound. There is a large amount of cacophonous consonant /r/ in this poem: “Rage, rage against…”, “Though wise men know at their end know dark is right”,” Because their words had forked no lightning…”,” Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.” (Thomas) All these types of cacophonic sounds cause a serious feeling. Many monosyllabic words end with plosives such as /d/, /t/ and /k/. In its turn, the plosives are stronger and sharper. E.g. That, night, old, light, end, dark, right, bright, wild, blind, sad, height. (Thomas) One of this poem's most noticeable sound features is that the poet uses a huge amount of 'long' vowels or diaphones like /ai/ and /ei/. E.g. /ai/ night, dying, light, lightning, crying, wild, blinding, blind, eyes, like /ei/ day, age, rave, wave, frail, wage, against, late, grave, blaze. (Thomas)

Those 'long' vowels often appear in this poem. Through those vowels’ readers might feel the voice of the speaker cracked with grief. This is a poem about the raw emotions that comes when the flash of a burning light that is of our lives is blown out with nothing more than a sigh. This focuses on the sorrow we have as those we care for go into that good night far too gently. Of the people who left before their time. As this poem was specifically written for Thomas' dead father, the psychological weight the words carry becomes even more meaningful. This poem emanates with strength, especially the beginning verse: 'Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight' (Thomas) is just stunning poetry. The poet explains in six stances how people are never ready to die, even if they are aged, successful or dangerous, experienced or not. All in all, the elements work together to accomplish the central theme, which is mortality, both efficiently and compellingly.

16 December 2021
Your Email

By clicking “Send”, you agree to our Terms of service and  Privacy statement. We will occasionally send you account related emails.

close thanks-icon

Your essay sample has been sent.

Order now
Still can’t find what you need?

Order custom paper and save your time
for priority classes!

Order paper now