Kristy J. McPhail
Introduction to Literature
October 6, 2011
Dylan Thomas' "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night" and Catherine Davis' "After a Time" demand comparison: Davis' poem was written in deliberate response to Thomas'. Davis assumes the reader's familiarity with "Do Not Go Gentle," which she uses to articulate her contrasting ideas. "After a Time," although it is a literary work in its own right, might even be thought of as serious parody--perhaps the greatest compliment one writer can pay another.
One of the forms of analysis and criticism that is best used with many works is the analysis of archetypal images. Many words and objects are images that have much deeper meanings and values than you, as a reader, take at face value. Many of the words and sentences in Dylan Thomas’ “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” give away the poems underlying theme of darkness and death.
One of the archetypal images Thomas uses is that of the wise old man. “Though wise men at their end know dark is right, because their words forked no lighting they do not go gentle into that good night.” This passage speaks of wise men that fail. The archetypal definition of the wise man is one who possesses the qualities of insight, wisdom, cleverness, a spiritual principle, and much more. But aside from the fact that these men are wise, their words still mean nothing. This passage gives the reader an unmistakable image of darkness in the lives of even those who are wise.
A second image that portrays this theme is the fourth stanza of the poem. “Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight, and learn, too late, they grieved it on its way, do not go gentle into that good night.” Here the image of the sun represents the passing of life. And the men, who were too late in catching the sun and grieved it on its way, are giving us the image that the sun is setting. Or, as it could be interpreted, the sun for that day is dying....
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