Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

"Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night"
Dylan Thomas

Thomas, Dylan. "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night."The Norton Introduction to Poetry. J. Paul Hunter, Alison Booth, and Kelly J. Mays. 9th edition. New York: Norton, 2007. 275.

I can't help but love this poem. Maybe it's because it's a villanelle, maybe it's because I can relate to it. I'm not entirely sure.

One thing I know, however, is that once again a poet is attempting to make something important stick in the reader's mind by repeating it over and over. "Do not go gentle into that good night/ Rage, rage against the dying of the light," speaks to someone important to the narrator. The narrator is attempting to convince this person not to give up and to keep fighting the illness they have. The fact that he uses the words "night" and "dying of the light," helps back this up, since darkness and night are often associated with dying. It's interesting that he chose to use "dying of the light," though, since most people associating dying with going towards the light of Heaven. It might be that Thomas was attempting to draw a comparison between the two words. If night represents death and dying, then light would probably represent something like life and living.

It's an incredibly emotional poem too. Thomas uses different examples of people (wise men, old men, etc.) to try and persuade the person not to give up and to keep fighting. I know that I've definitely experienced moments like this in my life, where I just want to grab the person thats sick and make them keep fighting.

I think that the main reason this poem is so well known is because it's a villanelle and it wouldn't be nearly as powerful without the repetition of those two lines.


Prof. L said...

Regarding the association of heaven and light, consider that such is the claptrap that the poem might be resisting. How "good," after all, is that night really?

Marissa said...

I agree, the repetition in this poem is so powerful. And it's not even just repetition of whole lines, but "rage, rage," the words themselves. "Rage" is repeated eight times, and further, all of that diction of fire and battle--rave, burn, lightning, blinding, blaze, fierce. Short as it is, so much desperation is packed into this poem!

Kelly Flannery said...

The repitition in this poem is really important. I liked how you pointed out that the words "night" and "dying of the light" are associated with death. I read over this the first time, but it's really important.