Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night by Dylan Thomas
Spencer Teo 4A2
Do not go gentle into that good night Spencer Teo II Ern 4A2 23
Part One “The sound should seem an echo of the sense” ~ Alexander Pope
What does “sense” refer to? “Sense” can refer to both the meaning of the word. When the sound echoes the meaning of the word, the literary device emphasises on the point that the author is trying to make.
My understanding of Alexender Pope’s quote: When someone reads a poem, the pronunciation of the consonants and vowels in the words should reflect the author’s emotions and intentions. E.g. She sells seashells by the seashore The “s” and “sh” sounds mimic that produced by waves crashing onto the seashore.
Examples of poetic devices Rhyme "Hey, why don't I just go eat some hay, make things out of clay, lay by the bay? I just may! What do yasay?"(Adam Sandler, Happy Gilmore, 1996) "I am not a lean meanspitting machine."(Bart Simpson, The Simpsons)
“And stepping softly with her air of blooded ruin about the glade in a frail agony of grace she trailed her rags through dust and ashes, circling the dead fire, the charred billets and chalk bones, the little calcined ribcage.” (Cormac McCarthy: Outer Dark)
Life and Death Since the start of the poem, the poet has chosen words with negative connotations. Usage of “dark” , “old”, “close of the day” to portray death. Two repetitive phrases: “do not go gentle into that good night” “rage, rage against the dying of the light” Juxtaposition of two important rhyming words “night” and “light”
Theme of Darkness and Light ties in with theme of Life and Death to form the skeleton of the poem.
Poet writes the villanelle such that “do not go gentle into that good night” and “rage, rage against the dying of the light” keeps repeating.
Instills sense of anxiety to audience (in this case the poet’s father), effectively engaging the reader to feel a sense of urgency as death approaches.
Poet desperately wants father to hang onto life.
Rhythm Poem written as a villanelle structure, which helps to maintain a constant rhythmbecause the first and third lines of the first stanza are rhyming refrains that alternate as the third line in each successive stanza and form a couplet at the close. Consistent repetition of the same concept, albeit each concept with a little variation, maintains a consistent rhythm throughout the poem. Out of the 5 tercets, the poet makes use of 4 tercets to describe how 4 different aged men choose to face death.
In the first example, “wise men” knew that “dark is right”, meaning their time on earth was up. However, they “do not go gentle into that good night”. They do not submit to death easily because they feel that they have not made great enough an impact while they were alive such that they can leave peacefully. This can be seen from how “their words forked no lightning”.
Again, light is juxtaposed against dark, e.g. “night” against “lightning”. The juxtaposition shows two extreme ends of a spectrum, vastly contrasting brightness against darkness. This concept can be applied to the comparison of life and death. The contrast helps to bring out the darkest side of death and the brightest side of life. This effectively helps the poet to drive home his message about death.
In the second example, “good men” did not want to die too. They feel that the number of good deeds they had done were too little. They felt that they had not done enough to allow themselves to depart peacefully. This can be supported by “crying how bright Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay”. Thus, they fight for their lives.
In the third example, “wild men”, which probably refers to men who contributed nothing much to society in their lifetimes, also refuse to submit to death. They “learnt too late” that they had been a burden to society and hope to have a chance to repent. Thus they do not want to die so soon.
In the last example, the poet cited “grave men”, which probably refers to disease-plagued people, refusing to surrender in their fight against death.
The poet listed four different men of different backgrounds in his examples. He started with the one he thought was the most successful in life, the “wise men”, to the ones whom were almost helpless in life, the “grave men”. Till this point, the poet has sloped the gradient of the poem from steep to gentle. The readers are brought from a high point to a low point, where there seems to be a sense of desolation and haplessness.
However, the poet does not stop there. The poet rekindles the flame of life here. “Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay” brings back a sense of hope back into the desolate space. The phrase “blaze like meteors and be gay” should have been used to describe a young and energetic youth. But the poet uses it here on a sick old man. He probably is trying to encourage his father to have that fighting spirit and energy to survive.
The poet then brings the poem to a high note, with “there on the sad height”, literally and symbolically. The poem is ended by the much repeated phrases “Do not go gentle into that good night.Rage, rage against the dying of the light”.
The poet brings the reader through a roller coaster of emotions, from high to low and back to high again. Despite this, the rhythm of the poem does not change, with the theme of life and death being the backbone and the rest of the words revolving around it. Coupled with the fact that the poem is in the form of a villanelle, the rigid structure allows for a constant rhythm to be maintained.
The constant revolution of the poem around the theme of death encapsulated in a fixed villanelle structure allows the poet to effectively convey his message of death to the readers.
After the exercise, I realise that the word “sense” in pope’s quote can refer to the meaning of a word or a feeling.
When the sound echoes the feeling of the word, the literary device portrays the emotions that the author is trying to convey to his audience.
For example, when the author uses words like “light”, “bright” and “right”, it means he probably feels good and happy, so the author is probably trying to emphasise the emotions of joy by choosing words with positive connotations and similar consonants.
A poem which relies heavily on aural poetic devices to impact the reader You could harness all the poweras it flashes hour by hourand will never, ever stop,thickly loaded from the top.Water flowing, swiftly whooshing,always whisking, always pushingto the river down below,always rushing, never slow,till it falls right past the islands,gives it just another try andwith a mild and calming quiver,it becomes a simple river.It's amazing if you spy it;all that noise and then theQuiet. Tahquamenon FallsWater rushing,gushing,pushingpast the limits of the edge.Water barrels off the ledge,whipping up the bottom sludge,makes the water look like fudge,growling with a freight train's roar,wildly rushes out some more. by Denise Rodgers
A poem in which sound is not as important A Dream Within A Dream Take this kiss upon the brow!And, in parting from you now,Thus much let me avow--You are not wrong, who deemThat my days have been a dream;Yet if hope has flown awayIn a night, or in a day,In a vision, or in none,Is it therefore the less gone?All that we see or seemIs but a dream within a dream. I stand amid the roarOf a surf-tormented shore,And I hold within my handGrains of the golden sand--How few! yet how they creepThrough my fingers to the deep,While I weep--while I weep!O God! can I not graspThem with a tighter clasp?O God! can I not saveOne from the pitiless wave?Is all that we see or seemBut a dream within a dream? Edgar Allan Poe
I prefer ‘visual’ poetic devices Visual poetic devices allow me to visualise what the poet wants me to see. While I can also try to visualise what the author wants me to see from his use of aural devices, more often than not, the “transcription” of sound to words cannot portray the scene very accurately.
For example in a war scene, when a bomb goes off, the sound it produced is typically described as “boom!” or “kaboom!”. It does not have a very terrifying impact that can be painted with words instead.