Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night Analysis

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Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night
(Written in 1951)
-By Dylan Thomas
(1914-1953)
First Stanza
The word gentle is used to describe the
personality of one individual . Since,
Thomas speaks directly towards the
reader, we can assume that this poem
was written for a single person, his father,
whom at the time was growing old after
serving in the army and the world wars.
These two words, along with the repeated
"rage" at the beginning of line 3, create a
sense of anger, rebellion and frustration
in the stanza. They connect with each
other. Thomas is building up emotional
tension in the poem here.
Direct reference to his father,.
(1)
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
The repetition of the word rage makes it sound
like a chant, as if Thomas were encouraging his
father to battle against death. The word rage
bears connotations of anger and resistance
and Thomas uses it as a way of expressing
that death should not take his father’s life
easily and that he should continue to resist.
Night is a metaphor for death. The
first line asks the reader to resist
death as easily or quickly as it
comes. The word “good” suggests
that Thomas is assuring his father
that death will be painless.
The dying of the light can be interpreted in two
ways. The literal meaning is that the person is
slowly falling into the clutches of death but it
can also be seen as Thomas asking his father
to hold on to hope which is symbolized as light
in this context, and to fight against the
opposition which is death.
(1) It is a villanelle poem with 5 stanzas with 3 lines each and the last
stanza has four lines. Poem is written in iambic pentameter.
First Stanza Summary
The line “Do not go gentle into that good night” basically is Thomas’s way of
persuading his dying father to resist death as much as he can. The phrase “Do
not” is a more of a command than Thomas giving his father an alternate choice.
Thomas is showing his father how he feels death should be encountered with,
he’s giving his advice on how to continue living on. All the lines follow this
same ideology that Thomas is trying to bring to the table.
The phrases “close of day” and “dying of light” are both metaphors for death.
In the second line Thomas tells his father that even at old age, you must
continue to rave and resist the day of your demise.
“Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
Second Stanza
The first kind of men that Thomas
Wise men know that death is an
Subjects the reader from the beginning to speaks about.
inevitable factor and that it must
believe that what is about to be said, is
happen as shown by the word “right”
about to contradicted. .
Dark is another metaphor for death.
“Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
(2)Do not go gentle into that good night.”
This represents the actions, speeches or
warnings that men of wisdom have bore
upon the people in the world.
(2) Thomas’ advice is repeated once again,
as a reminder to his father. Could be
interpreted as that Thomas’ father is hard
of hearing or too old too remember his
son’s advice.
This talks about the effect of their
words on people. Thomas is trying
to say that wise men refuse to die
because they feel that they havent
truly passed on their knowledge to
the world, or that their time spent in it
has not been properly spent.
Second Stanza Summary
In this stanza, Thomas is trying to conclude that wise men are the people that
are aware that “dark is right” . Dark is another metaphor for death. However he
concludes that the reason these men do not resist death gently is because they
have not truly completed what they felt they could have achieved in life with
their “words”.
The term words refers to their actual words of wisdom or knowledge that they
had wished to pass on. The expression “forked no lightning” can be interpreted
in many ways. It can be seen as a way of describing how little effect their wise
men’s words have had on the people of the world unlike lightning, which when
it strikes, leaves a mark. So in conclusion “their words forked no lightning”
means that the wise men failed to leave their mark in the world with their
knowledge and this is why they “do not go gentle into that good night”( resist
death)
“Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.”
Third Stanza
The second type of men
Frail shows that
their whatever they
have already done
has not been
enough to make a
difference
Connotations of the sea are
presented here. Thomas could be
Theme of light and
saying that these men are about to
darkness again
crash like waves on the shore
represented here.
where they meet death.
The men regret now what they
could have done and what they
failed to do.
“Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
(3)
This means the ocean. In this
This could be a reference to the
movement patterns of the waves.
Since the waves symbolize the nest
generation of people in the world,
the word danced is used to
describe the people’s actions
(3) The last line of the first stanza is repeated
once more. Thomas is trying to say that
true goodness of human nature is
determined by those who continue to fight
against the inevitable outcome of death.
context, Thomas describes the
world as a sea, and the colour
green is significant as it refers to all
the living things that exist in the sea
such as plants.
Third Stanza Summary
In this stanza, Thomas shows that even good men will battle against death. There is a lot of imagery of the
sea in this stanza . What Thomas is trying to conclude in this stanza is that the last generation of good
men regret how little they managed to do whilst they lived in the “green bay”. Now they face the end of
their lives as they are swept away from the green bay and are about to possibly be crashed against the
shores or rocks where their lives will end.
In this context, the green bay can be seen by the reader as the sea, as the sea contains living creatures such
as plants, hence the colour green. But it can also be seen as the living world in which life exists in. The
last wave is a metaphor for the last generation of good men who are about to meet their end.
So what the stanza is trying to show is that these men ponder about how their deeds could have made a
great change in the “green bay” which is the world. The word “danced” imitates the movements of the
way in which waves move, so furthermore, it describes the actions and deeds of the last good men. Their
deeds are described as frail, as they possibly may have not managed to achieve what the good men hoped
they could. Also, waves constantly move away from where they once were. Thomas is implying that the
good men who are the last wave also move away, but they move away from the green bay which is the
living world and possibly crash on a shore or rocks which would be where waves that were once formed
would be destroyed, and where the good mean would meet their demise. We know they regret that they
haven't done all they could because Thomas says they were “crying”. The good men cry how they could
have made a difference in the green bay( which is the world) whilst they were there, but now their wave
has been swept away from the green bay, symbolizing the passing from the living world to death.
“Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
Fourth Stanza
The sun bears connotations of light
and warmth. Again here, it
symbolizes the youth of men which
burned brightly while they lived their
whole lives just celebrating
Another kind of men are described
here. The term wild suggest that
they are stubborn, playful and do
not consider how important their life
is
They “sang the sun” would mean that
they praised life by singing of its praises
for giving them their youth
Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.
(4)
The realization that they
have become older has
finally hit them
(4)
Message of the poem once more
repeated here.
This term shows that like a plane
which is “in flight” life and time ar
constantly moving on
This term describes sunset.
The sun is now setting on
their youth and the wild
men grieve as they slowly
begin to age
Fourth Stanza Summary
In this stanza, Thomas is trying to show that men who lived their lives only
celebrating but never truly accomplishing anything like the wise or good men,
will repent for their actions when their youth leaves them and it will be too late
for them to change.
“The sun in flight” shows how their youth carries on along the time where they
get to enjoy it but the word flight, suggests that their youth is moving across
the sky( which would be Time) very quickly. So Thomas is trying to tell his
father that aging is a natural process and that all men who were once young fail
to realize this.
In some ways it seems that the reason Thomas decided not to show that these
men had accomplished at least something unlike the wise and good men was
because he wanted to show his father that his father had accomplished
something in his youth ( taking part in the world war) and has not wasted his
youth like these men, so he has no reason to grieve the loss of his youth and
furthermore, should not feel like there is no point to fighting off death anymore.
Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Fifth Stanza
The word grave is a pun. It could
mean that the men are very
serious, or could be mean that
these are men, close to death
An oxymoron used here as the
word “blinding” which means
absence of vision, is linked with
sight.
Their vision is still in the process of
fading away. This can be
interpreted literally as men who
because of aging are slowly losing
their sights or it can be seen as
their lives, which is symbolized by
light is slowly fading away
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
(5)
Men who are close to their deaths
(5)
The last line of the stanza fits in with the idea that the
men will “blaze like meteors” as both suggest that that
these men will not give up life without a fight and
without living it to their maximum like how Thomas
wished his own father to live his life.
Blaze like meteors suggest that
these men will die after giving life
everything they can and trying to
fulfill as much as they can.
Fifth Stanza Summary
In this stanza, Thomas shows that grave men, who can be seen as serious men,
or men who are close to their death, still have the chance to control their
destiny and how they wish to die. The oxymoron “blinding sight” shows that
even though they may be losing sight and slowly get older, these men see that
they can change the way in which they go out in. That is what the word “sight”
means. It refers to the idea that these men still can see the possibility of
changing how they decide to leave the world and die, and as Thomas describes,
they will “blaze like meteors” which means that these men will give up their
claims to life, only after going out with a bang.
The final line of the stanza concludes that the father must continue to rage and
resist death.
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Sixth Stanza
Thomas directly addresses his father for
the first time, this could mean he has
come to the conclusion of his point.
Father is on the verge of death, or on his
death bed while his son is telling him this.
And you, my father, there on that sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. Thomas wants his father to continue to
battle against death even if the odds are
Thomas will be upset that his father is crying and wants
against him. The “tears” which Thomas
to hold on to his life but he will be happy that his father
wants his father to shed show that he
does not so willingly allow himself to lose what little he
wants his father to be upset about losing
has left that life can take away from him. Also the words
his life and wants him to be upset about
curse and bless create sibilance. This soothing sound is
dying.
made because it creates the impression that Thomas is
whispering these to his dying father. The juxtaposition
of these two contrasting words placed together implies
that they can be thought of as opposites, but also as
the same thing as they will lead to the same end result. Thomas repeats his advice to his father
one last time before the poem ends,
symbolizing the possibility that the father
had just passed away on his death bed.
Sixth Stanza Summary
This is the final stanza of the poem. For the first time, Thomas directly addresses his father,
whom seems to be on the verge of death himself as showing by the phrase “sad height” which
could mean that the father is metaphorically looking down from a cliff or mountain into the
valley where death awaitens him. It is not heaven which Thomas is talking about when he
says this as the word “sad” bears the connotations of loss and grief.
When Thomas asks his father to curse and bless him, it is because Thomas wants his father
to cry about the fact that he’s now dying and he wants his father to put up a last struggle
against odds which are inevitably stacked against him. The “tears” symbolizes the father’s
grief from slowly losing his life and the word “fierce” shows the struggle and resistance
towards death even on his death bed. Seeing his father suffering will bring him pain, hence
why Thomas would say that it would curse him, but seeing that his father knows that his life
is still worth holding on to is why Thomas says that it would bless him.
The message of the poem, and Thomas’ advice , is both once more repeated where the poem
ends. Thomas could have ended the poem like this because he wanted to show that once you
can no longer fight against death, then there is nothing more left, just like the poem. An
alternate interpretation could be that those were Thomas’ last words to his father before he
died on his deathbed.
And you, my father, there on that sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Themes
Light and Darkness are one of the themes present in this poem. Light is used to
symbolize life, hope and youth in the poem whereas darkness of any kind is always a
metaphor for death, or aging.
Structure
The writing style is structured, just like Thomas’ argument to why his
father should not give up on life.
It is a villanelle poem with 5 stanzas with 3 lines each and the last stanza has four lines.
Poem is written in iambic pentameter. This poem style might have been used because
it has 5 stanzas, one to represent each year of the second world war.
The poem is written in first person, but this is only made apparent in the last stanza
where Thomas says “And you, my father”. Suggests that he remained detached when it
came to generalizing all men but when it came to his father personally, he shows his
emotions.
The rhyming structure is ABA ABA etc.
Language
The poem bears powerful imagery and emotive language, as Thomas is speaking
directly to his father and not to anyone else. The roles of family are also reversed here
as it is the son who is giving advice to the father.

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