Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night - Poem Analysis

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Vanderbilt University
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Thomas poem Do not go Gentle into that Good Night is one of the pieces he wrote, which has been read, in the world as one of the best lines. Thomas wrote the poem as he hid the grief he felt towards his dying father. His comfort lay in the hope that his father would no longer be in pain if he slept permanently as his age and the condition of his health dictated that he should go (Thomas 56). Death is used metaphorically; as the author bids his father goodbye and accepting that, the time had finally come where he had to go out of this world. The poem is a villanelle. Rhymes of words have been achieved throughout the entire poem where only two are found along the lines. For instance, in the third line, the author writes rage, rage against the dying of the light. In this case, the author tries to hide the mixture of feelings they feel at that time when they face the potential loss of his father (Birtwhistle 399). This means that it is beyond his control and despite the rage; he feels internally towards the eventuality of death, there is nothing much they can do to prevent it from happening. At the beginning, the lines of the poem depict the strong feelings against accepting death as fate despite the obvious old age of the dying father. In essence, one should put up a brave fight and prove to death that they are stronger despite their appearance or lack of strength in their bodies. The authors choice of words when he uses rave indicates the emotional trauma that he goes through even as he accepts that his father might not have the strength or control over the impending death (Thomas 78). It will not have any effect on his father even if he puts up a brave front against death since some things are beyond the control of humans. Further, when he says do not go gentle into that good night is an indication that if his father were to leave through death, he should not merely accept but rather do his best to see that he remains behind.

It is evident throughout the poem that the author had strong feelings towards his father even as he urges him to fight on and hold on because he is wise (Birtwhistle 402). He urges his father to rage against the dying of the light knowing too well that if his father had the power, he would take cautions not to leave his son alone in the world (Thomas 28). This illustrates the strong connection that the author had with his father from a young age and despite the old man being frail and sickly, the son still wants to have him around. It is unimaginable and unfathomable to the son to understand that his once strong father is a shadow of himself. In addition, the persistent encouragement he extends to his father to fight on means that during his childhood, his father had taught him how to withstand and put up a battle. It is an emotional time for the author, as he knows that his father has no control over the impending death. The strong words act as an encouragement to the public as they read the poem (Birtwhistle 386). It means that in the face of adversity, one should not give up unless it is something beyond their control. In some stanzas, the author reminisces how his father was a wise man and wild at the same time (Thomas 35). Remembering such a man who was once his figure of strength and vigour being on the verge of death is painful for the author but like every other human being, the old man has to obey the law of nature.

In conclusion, the poem is a success as it illustrates the psychological trauma people go through before losing their loved ones. Thomas knew that his father was sick all along and would have prepared his mind of the eventuality in the long-term. However, it is evident that he feels the pain when his father is almost giving in. The metaphors used by the author make it comfortable and enjoyable to read the lines as he uses dark to mean death. As the title depicts, do not go gentle into that night means that one should not accept defeat in the face of battles. They must rage despite the challenges they go through. When Thomas mentions grave men, it is the realization that every man must pass through the same path of death where they will vanish from the face of the world. The consistency in using rage and do not go gentle into that good night gives the poem rhythm and meaning even as the author passes the message to the audience reading it. It is an illustration of fighting on despite the hopelessness of the situation at hand.


Works Cited

Thomas, Dylan. "Do not go gentle into that good night." Botteghe Oscure 1952:23-67.

Birtwhistle, John. "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night." BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care 6.3 (2016): 381-405.


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