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Analyse of “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” by Dylan Thomas

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Analyse of “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” by Dylan Thomas

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  • November 3, 2008
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Analyse of “Do not go gentle into that good night” by Dylan Thomas

The form on the poem is a villanelle, with a rhyme scheme alternating “night” and “day.” A villanelle is a French poetic form that originally served as a vehicle for pastoral, simple, and light verse. A villanelle is a poem of nineteen lines that begins with five stanzas of three lines and a final quatrain of set pattern. The fact that Thomas use’s this form for the subject of death enhances the irony of beseeching a dying person to rage. Thomas speaks of “wise men”, “good men”, “wild men”, and “grave men” all with the same message to pursue their passions even in the face of their mortality and impending death. The poem has no title other than its first line, "Do not go gentle into that good night," a line which appears as a refrain throughout the poem. The first line is a command

“Do not go gentle into that good night,”

The words “Do not go gentle into that good night” are an imperative command, “Going gentle” refers to giving up and passively accepting death, and “that good night,” refers to death itself, it is also a metaphor and a pun . It is important to note that Thomas refers to death (night) as “good.” As he will expand upon later in the poem, Thomas recognizes it is not death itself that should be fought, but death that comes unfairly and too early. The second line is the only line in this stanza that will be repeated only once in this poem:

“Old age should burn and rave at close of day.”

What Thomas is saying is that people who are old should see what a gift life is, they (even more than others) should fight against death and scream out their last words, not passively pass on. The close of the stanza is another command. This time, instead of a negative command “do not” Dylan writes a positive imperative statement “(you) rage.” The next three stanzas discuss how three different types of men might feel about their death when it comes. The beginning of the second stanza is...