Friday, May 9, 2008

theory Questions for " Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night"

Literary Biography of Dylan Thomas' "Do Not Go Gently into That Good Night"
Find the text, online, here:
Find one of Dylan Thomas' biographies here:

One literary theory that applies well to this poem is the theory of Literary Biography. To put it simply, this is finding ways in which the author's life has influenced the text.
Dylan Thomas, the author of this poem, was born in 1914 in Wales. There is much that could be explained and detailed about Thomas' life, but the important information to know in relation to this poem is about where he spent his time and who influenced him. He enjoyed visiting the beautiful seashore where he grew up and he, often times, visiting on his relative's farm. Dylan's father was a school teacher and an advocate of poetry and language- one website says, "Thomas' father also gave the poet an early awareness of the native Welsh traditions, as well as the classics of English literature." It is because of his father's passion for poetry and language that Dylan was so influenced to peruse poetry. This poem, “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night" , is written in the year 1952, the same year that his influential father died, and it, therefore, only makes sense that this poem is directed to his father during his last days ( his father died in December of 1952). The speaker of the poem is speaking to a dying father ("and you, my father, there on the sad height"-line 16) and pleading for the dying father not to give up and just let go. Thomas admired his father and learned all about his passion in life from him and is used to seeing this man as his inspiration and stronghold and it is, therefore, painful to see him giving into death so easily.
Readers can easily understand this poem by looking into Thomas' own relationship with his father and understanding how difficult it would be to watch a man that has influenced him so much become weakly. The imagery of the poem is also, perhaps, influenced by his frequent visits to the seashore
Critical Questions:
1) In the second stanza, Thomas speaks of wise men, in the third he speaks of good mena, in the fourth he speaks of wild men, and in the fifth he speaks of grave men. Does this seem to be a progression? Based on what we know of Thomas' relationship with his father, is he at all comparing the father in this poem to these types of men?
2) What is the tone of this poem? Does it seem to be conducive to the relationship between Thomas and his own father?
3) Why are the lines, “Do not go gentle into that good night" and” Rage, rage against the dying of the light" repeated throughout the poem? What effect does it have?
4) What imagery of the poem, if any, seems to be influenced by his surroundings and experiences?

Thomas, Dylan. "Do not Go Gentle ino That Good Night." The Norton Introduction to Poetry. Ed. J. Paul Hunter, Allison Booth and Kelly J. Mays. 9th ed. New York: Norton, 2007. 275-276.

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