Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night By Dylan ThomasBrynne Becker
Poem A Do not go gentle into that good night, B Old age should burn and rave at close of day; A Rage, rage against the dying of the light.A Though wise men at their end know dark is right,B Because their words had forked no lightning they A Do not go gentle into that good night. A Good men, the last wave by, crying how brightB Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay, A Rage, rage against the dying of the light. A Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight, B And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way, A Do not go gentle into that good night.A Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight B Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay, A Rage, rage against the dying of the light. A And you, my father, there on the sad height,B Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray. A Do not go gentle into that good night. A Rage, rage against the dying of the light
Form, Rhyme Scheme, and RepetitionThis is a villanelle. It is an example of a fixed verse form. A villanelle is nineteenlines and contains five tercets followed by a quatrain. There are two repeatinglines. These lines first appear in the first and third line of the first tercet. Theselines are alternately repeated until the last stanza. The last stanza includes bothrepeated lines.The two repeating lines are:“Do not go gentle into that good night,” (1)“Rage, rage against the dying of the light” (3)The repetition of these two lines highlights the fact thatthese two lines contain the main message of the poem.The very simple rhyme scheme is ABA ABA ABA ABA ABA ABAA
Stanza 1 A Do not go gentle into that good night,B Old age should burn and rave at close of day; A Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Syntax, Contrast, and TimeSyntax: There is very little punctuation in this stanza. The only punctuation occurs at the end of the lines.There is also one comma at the beginning of Line 3. The lack of punctuation in the middle of the lines revealsthat the speaker is in a rush to convey this message because life does not last forever and time is running out.Contrast: There is a very sharp contrast between the structured form of the poem and the chaotic dictionsuch as “burn” (Line 2), “rage” (2), and “rave” (3). This conveys the message that although there is a certainstructure to life that cannot be controlled(one cannot avoid growing older and must eventually die), a personcan control his or her attitude. Another contrast occurs in Line 2. The “Old age” contrasts with the “burn”and the “rage”. The elderly are expected to put up the least resistance and be the weakest. The young areexpected to be the ones who have the physical ability that is necessary to put up a fight. The speaker uses thiscontrast to reveal that even though a person close to death may be physically weak, he or she can still burnwith a passion for life and fight to make the most of his or her life.Time: The phrases “that good night”, “at the close of day”, and “the dying of the light” can be literallyinterpreted to mean the end of the day (1-3). These phrases are placed at the end of the lines which highlightsthe concept that something is coming to an end. They can also be interpreted to mean death or the end of aperson’s life. The choice to use the word “close” reveals that this is a final thing that one can never go back or“reopen” his or her life (2). The poet also uses the word “dying” which is an obvious reminder that thespeaker is talking about death (3). The “dying of the light” literally refers to the sun disappearing, but it alsoparallels the elderly dying.
Context and AnalysisContext: The speaker commands an unknown person to fight against death. Thespeaker declares that the elderly should display strong emotions at the end of theirlives. Finally, the speaker says that the elderly should rage against the end of life.Analysis: The speaker reveals that even though a person must die eventually, itdoes not mean that they should give up and wait for death. The elderly should notloose the passion that they have for life. They should show emotion and a desire tolive even though they know that death is inevitable. They should keep living andfighting to live until death finally claims them.
Stanza 2A Though wise men at their end know dark is right,B Because their words had forked no lightning they A Do not go gentle into that good night.
Diction, Imagery, Contrast, and SyntaxDiction: In the first line of the second stanza, the men who know that death isinevitable are described as “wise” (4). The poet is attempting to give this viewpointcredibility by describing the men who believe this as wise.Imagery: In the second line of the second stanza, the words “forked” and“lightening” create the image of a jagged bolt of lightening cutting across the darksky (5). Lightening is bright and can be seen for miles. Though these men are wise,they have not said anything enlightening enough that will be powerful enough toaffect many people.Contrast: The words of these wise men are contrasted against lightening. Placingthese men and their words against something so powerful and large reveals thathumans are insignificant and powerless against death.Syntax: Line 5 states that humans are insignificant compared to the rest of theuniverse and are powerless to stop death. However, the line that follows itreiterates the message that humans should refuse to “go gentle into that goodnight” (6)
Context and AnalysisContext: The speaker states that wise men know thatdeath is inevitable. The words of these men have nothad an impact on the world that can be compared tolightening. These men do not go gently to their deaths.Analysis: The speaker uses the wise men as an exampleto reveal that a person should not try to cheat deathbecause death is a natural part of the cycle of life. Justas the words of the wise men failed to enlighten theworld, the raging against death will not defeat death.However, this does not mean that a person should giveup and stop living just because he or she will eventually
Stanza 3 A Good men, the last wave by, crying how brightB Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay, A Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Syntax and ContrastSyntax: The first line of stanza three contains more punctuation in the middle ofthe line than any other line up to this point. The punctuation makes this linechoppy and gives the impression that the speaker is becoming emotional. This isfitting because this stanza includes words such as “crying” and “rage” (7-9).Contrast: The contrast in this poem appears when the speaker describes the“Good men” who “rage, rage against the dying of the light” (7-9). Usually, the goodpeople are the ones who behave themselves. The speaker uses this contrast toreveal that showing emotion and putting up a fight does not make one a badperson.
Context and AnalysisContext: The speaker describes the good men who are crying about the fact thatall of their good deeds did not make much of a difference in the world. Thespeaker ends this stanza by claiming that the good men also rage against the dyingof the light.Analysis: Though the actions of the good men are frail compared with the power ofdeath, the speaker praises them because they showed emotion by crying andperforming these deeds instead of waiting for death.
Stanza 4A Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight, B And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way, A Do not go gentle into that good night.
MetaphorThe speaker compares the sun to the cycle of life (10). The flight of the sun refersto the sun setting which symbolizes life ending. No human is capable of stoppingthe sun from setting. It is a part of nature that can not be stopped. Though somedays the sun sets more quickly than other days, the sun will inevitably set. Death isalso natural and inevitable.
Context and AnalysisContext: The speaker continues describing how different types of men act towardsthe end of their lives. In this stanza the speaker discusses the wild men. These mendid not truly appreciate their lives or live their lives to the fullest. In their old age,they realize this and grieve because they have wasted so much time. However,these men do not give up and resign themselves to death.Analysis: This stanza reminds the audience to make the most of their lives nowinstead of waiting until it is almost too late. The speaker praises these men forshowing emotions by grieving rather than giving up and withdrawing from life. Thespeaker also implies that those who do not believe that they have made the mostof their lives fight for their lives harder because they want to attempt to make upfor the time they wasted.
Stanza 5A Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight B Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay, A Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Imagery, Syntax, and ContrastImagery: This stanza begins with words that conjure up images of death and old agesuch as “grave”, “death”, “blinding”, and “blind” (13-14). These images the readerof the subject of this poem.Syntax: Line 13 contains two commas in the middle of the line. These commas givethe poem a choppy feel. Coupled with the death imagery, it gives the impression ofsomeone gasping for breath and struggling to live. The commas are placed beforeand after the word “death” which reminds the reader that death stops life.However, Line 14 is not interrupted by any punctuation. It is strong and solidwhich reveals that it is possible for one to be strong in the face of death and put upa solid fight for his or her life.Contrast: The “blinding sight” means that although a person’s eyesight may bephysically deteriorating, they are capable of “seeing” or realizing the truths aboutlife and death that can not be physically seen, but learned from experience andreflection (13).
Context and AnalysisContext: The speaker continues describing how different types of people react inthe face of death by describing the serious and sad people who are so close todeath that they are physically deteriorating. Even though these people are so weakand close to death, they still burn and rage against death.Analysis: Even though people who are close to death may be physicallydeteriorating and loosing some of their abilities, they can still enjoy life. They canstill “burn” with a passion for life and be happy during the time they have left.
Stanza 6 A And you, my father, there on the sad height,B Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray. A Do not go gentle into that good night. A Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Point of View, Syntax, and DictionPoint of View: The speaker reveals that he is speaking to his dying father.Syntax: Lines 16-17 are filled with punctuation. This gives the impression that thespeaker is now extremely emotional and is begging the audience and his father tolisten to the message of the poem. The final line ends with a period which suggeststhat even though one can rage against death, it will be in vain because like thepoem, life must also end (19).Diction: The speaker uses many strong contrasting verbs such as “curse”, “bless”,“pray”, and “rage” (17-19). These verbs represent the scattered emotions of onewho is close to death as well as the scattered emotions of the friends and familymembers of a dying loved one. They also reveal that the speaker does not carewhich emotion his father and those who are close to death emote as long as theyare still feeling something.
Context and AnalysisContext: The speaker addresses his dying father and implores him to curse him orbless him. The speaker tells his father that he prays that he will rage against deathand refuse to gently die.Analysis: Thomas deliberately chooses to wait until the last stanza to address hisdying father. Although he was speaking to his father, he is also speaking to thereaders. His goal was to involve the readers and inspire them to refuse to diewithout a fight. The mention of the speaker’s father in the final stanza reveals theanguish that relatives go through when their loved ones are facing death. Thisstanza reveals another motivation to rage against death. Family members arecomforted when they witness their loved one displaying emotions and fighting toremain with them even if it is only temporary.
Final Context and AnalysisContext: This poem encourages the reader and the speaker’s father to remainpassionate and fight for life when they are close to death. The speaker describesthe wise, the good, the wild, and the grave men. The speaker reveals that all thesetypes of men fight for their lives and lists the reasons why these men do so. Finally,the speaker implores his father to show emotion and repeats his message one finaltime.Analysis: The speaker reveals that although death is a natural part of life andinevitable, it does not mean that one should stop truly living and feeling eventhough they are approaching death. On the contrary, they should show strongemotion and fight to make the most of their time while they still can because theycan still make small contributions to the world, experience life, be happy, and bringcomfort to their family members.
Definition of Poetry∀"Poetry should be great & unobtrusive, a thing which enters into ones soul, and does not startle it or amaze it with itself but with its subject“ (Keats).
ExplanationThe form of this poem is very simple. The rhyme scheme is very simple. The wordsthemselves are very simple. Thomas does not present his message in a new orelaborate manner that amazes the readers. His message is powerful and simpleenough that it does not need to be presented in an elaborate manner. The form,rhyme scheme, literary techniques, and words do not get in the way of or distractthe reader from the message. The subject of accepting the inevitability of deathwhile still raging against it, even though one knows that it is futile has the capacityto enter into a person’s soul and make a lasting impact.