Explication Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night English Literature Essay

In “Do not go gentle into that good night”, Dylan Thomas is inspired by his dying father and discusses resisting death in old age and in sickness. It encourages living life until the last breath rather than just accepting imminent death. Thomas portrays this view through imagery, choice of words, and the constant use of metaphors. The poem is in a villanelle form which consists of nineteen lines; five tercets and one closing quatrain. It uses only two rhyme sounds while repeating the first (“night) and third line (“light”) end words throughout the third line of each stanza in the poem and using both words in the last two lines. The repetition of the first and third lines resembles a chorus of a song. This repetitive form is used by Thomas in particular since it stresses the point of his message repeating important lines; “Do not go gentle into that good night” and “Rage, rage against the dying of the light”. The first tercet introduces the theme of death as well as the two repeating lines that end the alternate stanzas. The first and third lines both express the theme of the poem. The first line can be interpreted as a command, “Do not go gentle into that good night,” instructing his father to not give up easily. The “good night” is a metaphor and a pun, paraphrased as a “good death”. The second line is used to bring together the first and third line. “Close of day” , along with being a metaphor, creates a connection with the “good night” in line one, while “burn” and “rave” connects to the third line of the poem. It as materializes old age as an object that can be burned and not an obstacle to fighting death. Line three again is also a command to “Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” “Dying of the light” is also a metaphor here. Both the first and second lines are similar in theme but use contradicting words to express it and therefore differing in tone; “Gentle” and “rage,” “good” and “dying,” and “night” and “light.” The tone for the first is gentle while the tone of the third is defiant. Stanzas 2 through 5 urges the audience, his father, to “rage against the dying of the light” exemplifying what “wise”, “good”, “wild”, and “grave” men do when facing death. Thomas uses these men to stress the message every kind of man must go out fighting death while at the same time reminding the audience of its imminent arrival. In the second stanza the first line is an example of Thomas’ reminder to the audience that death is undeniable, “Though wise men at their end know dark is right”, paraphrased “even the wise know that death is final” , still they are commanded to not go “gentle” into the “night”. In stanza three is also another example; the “good men” wonder what could have been of their “frail deeds” but still “rage” death. “Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay” is here personification and metaphor. In stanza four the wild men whose actions have been so memorable, now know they must face their grief and are also instructed to not go gentle into the night. “Wild men who sang the sun in flight” here is exaggeration and metaphor. In stanza four, even the “grave men” who have blinding sight still fight by having “blind eyes blaze like meteor” and “rage against” the “light” In stanza six the speaker addresses his audience, his father, directly and makes his last plea. He asks for him to “cuse,bless” him, show him some sign of fight as he is there laying down dying . He pleads him to make it through the night and fight “the dying of the light” as every man should. This is where it is apparent that this was the proper form for the poem since here he finishes the stanza with the first and third line of the first stanza.

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