Poem Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night By Dylan Thomas This poem, in the form of a villanelle, is about the universal subject of death. As line sixteen suggests, the speaker is not only talking about death to us, but to his father as well: “And you, my father, there on the sad height,” (l. 16) The speaker does not want his father to accept death passively. He wishes his father would fight death just as the types of men he mentions in stanzas two to five have done. For instance in stanza two, the men want to continue living until their words influence people – if they die without doing this then they would have been useless in life.
As further proof – in stanza four the wild men have chased life, caught it and have felt successful in doing so. But by chasing life they have not lived it and they regret this. Consequently they also want to maintain living life in order to live it instead of chase it. The father is not like them in that sense, which is why in line sixteen he is distanced from the speaker by the use of the word “height” (see above quotation). Because this is a villanelle, the father is further separated from the other men because he is mentioned in the only quatrain rather than a tercet. Furthermore this encourages the reader to notice this stanza, and highlights the importance of it too.
The poet is disappointed that his father is unlike these other men because he does not want his father to die. When parents die, we lose our last grasp of childhood. Our parents are no longer around to care for us, so we have to look after ourselves – we are forced to mature and become more responsible. Thomas feels very emotional about this. “Rage”, “fierce” and “curse” are all very strong and emotive words displaying his feelings well.
Perhaps he wants his father to live longer for the reason that Thomas was not really in control of his own life. He was renowned for his alcohol addiction, and this shows that he was not in control of himself. He probably feared his father dying because it would mean he would have to be more responsible of himself – which he did not want. As a result he tried to persuade his father to live for longer. The title of the poem is an instruction.
As death is a universal subject, he is telling his father and his readers that you should fight death. The repetition of this line strengthens the speaker’s thoughts and constantly reminds us to not react passively towards death. Repetition helps to enforce the tone of the poet, which is emotional and influential. The use of single syllable rhyming has a telling impact, which creates an almost authoritarian atmosphere. This relates to the title that is authoritarian because he uses “Do not go”.
There is no “perhaps” or “you might want to .. “. This is how Thomas wants us to react towards death. Lines fourteen and fifteen display how the rhyming has this similar effect: “Blind eyes should blaze like meteors and be gay. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” The use of “Do not go..” in the title, helps to display the poet’s emotion. Throughout the poem, Thomas has employed two metaphors; light represents life, and darkness indicates death. There are other words that relate to these metaphors.
For example in the title the use of the word “night” relates to darkness and therefore death, and in the fifth stanza “blaze” reminds us of light and therefore life. These words continuously recap the central theme in the poem – death. In the title he also refers to night (and therefore death) as “good”. This may be a reference to the afterlife being good – but as with most of the poem, it is up for interpretation. Regardless of the meaning, this single word creates a more positive poem – signifying hope, and composing a more enjoyable villanelle to read.
Through the repetition of ‘g’ words in the title, alliteration has been employed: “go”, “gentle”, “good”. This does two things – firstly it strengthens this refrain and it’s meaning, and secondly it further supports the tone of this sentence. “G” sounds are very harsh, and so it helps to make this sentence an instruction again. In the title and the rest of the poem, pentameter rhythm has been employed. The poem becomes very structured because of this, therefore adding clarity to Thomas’ emotions.
It also makes some lines more inevitable (we can guess what the framework of the next line shall be) – even the single syllable rhyming structure is regimented with only two alternative rhymes. This predictability corresponds to the inevitability of death. Everyone dies eventually. The fast rhythm of the poem also links to death. The majority of the words are only one syllable, and as it is written in the villanelle form, the tercets are very short and quick to read. Additionally, alliteration in the recurring title helps to increase the pace too. The speed we read at depicts the quickness at which his father is approaching death. It arguably also reminds us again that death is inevitable – it will come to everyone eventually. Even the word choice deliberately fits in with the topic of death.
Line thirteen is one of the best examples of this: “Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight” “Grave” in this sentence, not only relates to the persona of the men, but also relates to death – a grave is a hole dug to bury a corpse. Thomas has also applied “frail” and “green” in line eight to the central subject: “Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay” “Frail” may remind one of the frailty of an old man approaching death. The use of “green” is not quite as simple though. This could relate to death in two ways. If we take “green bay” literally then we have to consider what has made this bay green. Algae often create a green-blue discolouration of water. This represents death because algae produce quickly and can cover large areas of water, which stops light and oxygen reaching animals and plants underneath – eventually killing them.
The use of the word “green” on its own also relates to death. In modern films, green is often portrayed as the colour of death because green denotes nature, and death is a natural process. These words offer a visual imagery of death and become metaphors for it. They continually remind us of the main theme. This superbly written and complex poem evokes the emotions the writer experiences in his father. Perhaps by prolonging life we can try to influence more people with our words, make up for our wrongdoings, or live life instead of chasing it – just as the first three types of men wanted to. Ironically his death resulted much from alcoholism – yet we are constantly reminded to not let ourselves disappear gently into darkness, but to fight with everything we have! Poetry Essays.