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Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night by Dylan Thomas - Essay Example

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The focus of this paper "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night by Dylan Thomas" is on one of Dylan Thomas’s most famous and approachable works. Dylan Thomas was a Welsh poet who became well known for his spellbinding readings of his work and also, in a less healthy manner, for his drinking…
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Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night by Dylan Thomas
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Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night by Dylan Thomas The poem “Do not go gentle into that good night” is one of Dylan Thomas’s most famous and approachable works. Dylan Thomas was a Welsh poet who became well known in Britain, Europe and America for his spellbinding readings of his work and also, in a less healthy manner, for his drinking. This poem was written for his father who was dying of cancer. It is ironic, considering the message of the poem, that Thomas himself did not take his advice – he drank himself to death a few days before his 40th birthday.
This poem is made up of six stanzas, five of which are three lines, while the fourth is four lines. It has a fairly simple rhyme scheme that is nevertheless effective. The first and third lines in each stanza rhyme with one another throughout the whole poem,. Creating a through-line as if it is voice shouting at the reader – “night . . ... light . . . right . . . night . . . . bright . . . light . . . flight . . . night . . . sight . . . light . . . height . . . night . . . light.” It is perhaps a sign of Thomas’s skill as a poet that the poem does not appear to get repetitive, but rather is a powerful rendition of a young man pleading with his father not to move easily into death.
The first stanza tells what should happen, “old age should burn and rave at close of day”, while the next four take the reader on a journey through different kinds of men who do not succumb easily to death. Thus while wise, good, wild and grave men may have lived their lives differently, none of them “go gentle into that good night”.
The different kinds of men that Thomas mentions all seem to have some regrets in their lives. Thus the wise men know that their words “had forked no lightning”, thus perhaps suggesting the difference between the mortality of man and the transience of his wisdom. Good men merely have “frail deeds”, suggesting that good is perhaps the weakest force in the world, while wild men learn too late that they are grieving for the sun when they sing for it. So while mortal life may have permanent disappointment, men should still fight against the leaving of it.
The mention of “grave men” who are nevertheless “blind” suggests a whole series of literary characters, from the blind Tiresias who tells Oedipus the truth about his incestuous marriage. Finally, in the last stanza, Thomas returns to his father and breaks the previous pattern by making the stanza four lines long. He asks his father to essentially feel something as he is dying – that is the reason that he invites him to “curse, bless me now with your fierce tears”.
A passionate and deeply moving poem, Thomas writes of the helplessness that every human being feels as they are about to lose a loved one to death. He knows that the “raging” will be ultimately futile, but it is the process of not going gentle that is apparently a triumph to him. The fact that Thomas himself could not face life and essentially committed suicide through alcohol makes the poem even more poignant. Like many creative artists, he found it impossible to follow his own memorable advice.
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