Literary Analysis: “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night”
“Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night,” is an insightful poem written by Dylan Thomas. It is a Villanelle, a nineteen-line form of poetry. The speaker of the poem is communicating positive aspects of growing old. Dylan Thomas, by using frequent and consistent repetition and poetic devices, succeeds in powerful communication of the theme and the passion.
“Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night” is a typical Villanelle with five three-line stanzas and one four line stanza at the end. The rhyme scheme consists of A-B-A format; although the last stanza has a rhyme scheme of A-B-A-A. Altogether, it consists of six different stanzas. The last line of each stanza has a repetition form of A-B-A-B-A-A. A is “Rage, rage against the dying of the light,” and B is “Do not go gentle into that good night”. The beginning of every stanza, excluding the first and the last, introduces four different men: wise, good, wild, and grave men. Dylan Thomas used poetic devices, other than rhyme and repetition, such as personification, figurative language, assonance, and similes. For example, personification is used in line 8, “their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay.” In line 10, figurative language is used, “wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight.” Later in the poem, “fierce tears” (line 17) is an example of assonance. Lastly, the poet describes blind eyes by using a simile, “Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,” (line 4). The poem evokes intense emotions from the reader, by using repetition and a variety of poetic devices.
The message Dylan Thomas is trying to communicate through this poem is that the elderly should not be discouraged and feel hopeless due to their age. When the poet says “Do not go gentle into that good night,” the night refers to the later portion of life where everything fades away and becomes dim. People usually busy themselves with different activities throughout the day; on the contrary, people ordinarily unwind and grow subdued as the night gets deeper. When he says this, he is comparing features of a day with features of a life time. He reminds the readers of this specific allegory of a day and a life time repeatedly, accentuating his point. Another line that is used continually is, “Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” After creating a picture of apathy of old age, the poet urges the reader to charge forward into the prime of life.
D. Thomas created four different perspectives in his poem to show the universal relevance of his theme. First, he talks about wise men who understand that knowledge and intelligence aren’t the cores of their lives. Then, he talks about good men who become conscious that their good deeds won’t define their identity. The poet brings up the third men, who are wild. The wild men larked about their youth and when they reached old age, they were remorseful of their shallowness; yet the poet is encouraging them to not concede living the life they enjoy. Finally, grave men are exemplified in the fifth stanza “Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight/ Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay.” Men who are at the end of their lives realize that their physical disabilities can’t stop them from remaining strong or pursuing joy. Though all four men lived unalike lives, at the end of their lives, they come to the same conclusions: they should not base their identities on their youth, and they can live a wholesome life in their old age.
Dylan Thomas used different types of lives to prove that his thoughts apply to all men. The continuing recurrence of his main lines also assists in effective transfer of his opinion. Dylan Thomas not only communicated his point efficiently, but also assembled artistic edge by using different poetic devices. Over and over the poet encourages elderly to live with a fever of enthusiasm. A closer look at the main theme warns the reader to not find one’s identity in their youth. Reading this passionate and driving poem, “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night,” will provoke excitement and meaning to seniors who seem to have lost all reason to live.