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Donot Go Gentle

By rutvi-vadera Feb 17, 2015 3031 Words
Please can you discuss the metre and rhythm in Dylan Thomas's 'Do not go Gentle into that Good Night'?   Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night by Dylan Thomas begins with Thomas's plea to his father to be strong and to fight death. Death is not something to be taken lightly and so Thomas uses the structure of a villanelle (the form of the poem, a so-called "pastoral lyric") to express his message most intensely. The villanelle is nineteen lines long and the first five stanzas are only three lines in lengths followed by one quatrain to complete the poem. Iambic pentameter features in Thomas's poem, creating the familiar "Dadum, dadum..." rhythm  where the second syllable is stressed. However, Thomas did not like to be conventional so the rhythm is not strictly adhered to in terms of metric feet but rather in terms of there being ten syllables per line.  Old age should burn and rave at close of day

The rhyme scheme is constructed around the words "day" and "night," and words which rhyme with them. The repetition of the third lines, such as " Rage, rage against the dying of the light" and the fact that the rhyme comes from the same two words, give an added rhythm to the poem other than that created by syllables and there is an insistence created through this rhythm, allowing Thomas to get his message across.  1 Who is speaking?

2 What kind of person is he or she? in what mood? thinking what thoughts?feeling what emotions? 3 Of whom or what is he or she speaking?
4 How is this person or object being described?
5 What attitudes are being projected?
6 Are we led to share the attitudes and emotions in sympathy or to rebel against them with feelings of anger or irony?

A poet whose words burst from the page in linguistic exuberance, Dylan Thomas writes in the form of a rhythmic villanelle a moving plea to his dying father, imploring him to affirm life until the end, rather than accept death quietly: Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
1. The son, who is Dylan Thomas, speaks to the father in this poem, although the father is not present. 2. Thomas, the poet, is a young man with a distinctive voice, romantic, effusive, and melodic. His emotions are intense; he is angry that death has come for his beloved father, and he does not want his father to succumb to the forces that threaten his being. Instead, he asks his father to "Rage, rage against the dying of the night." 3. "the dying of the light" and "that good night" are metaphors for death.Thomas does not want his father to succumb to these images. 4. Dylan's father is facing death, although apparently from Dylan's letters to a friend, the former schoolteacher does not realize that he is dying. For, when he sent the poem to a friend, he wrote,"The only person I can't show the little enclosed poem to is, of course, my father who doesn't know he's dying."  5. Although death is inevitable, Thomas as poet does not feel that his father should willingly accept fate. Instead, he wishes that the man would be like the men whom he describes in each stanza, men who catch "and sing the sun in flight"; men whose "words had forked no lightning"; men who "see with blinding sight." 6. To Thomas, poetry is "the rhythmic, inevitably narrative, movement from an overclothed blindness to a naked vision." Certainly, "Do Not Go Gentle Into the Night" is such a transport from an acceptance of death to a rebellion of spirit against it. Indeed, the reader is led to share the poet's sense of urgency in his desire that the man not passively retreat from life. The reader, too, drawn to the disciplined form of the poem, is invited to share in the intensity of emotion that the poet expresses. As "grave," or serious men," those who read this poem are called to also affirm life until the very end, refusing to quietly accept death; instead "rag[ing] against the dying of that light" of life.

According to Dylan Thomas in the poem, "Do No Go Gentle Into That Good Night," how should people behave when they are faced with death? In the poem "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night" by Dylan Thomas, the poet appears to suggest that people who are faced with death should rebel against this inevitable end. The poem focuses especially on death occurring after a long life, recommending that those in old age should "rage", "rave," and "burn" at the idea of dying. The two most repeated refrains in the poem occur as the first and third lines in the first stanza.  This stanza also contains the main premise of the poem, summarizing how people should react to the idea of leaving life. The first line, "Do not go gentle into that good night" is also the title of the poem and could therefore be considered at the heart of all the poet's other statements. The first part of the line, "Do not go gentle" can be viewed in quite literal terms. Thomas is suggesting that human beings should not mildly accept what is about to happen to them. "That good night" is a metaphor for death. The images of darkness and night are frequently used to stand for death or some other calamity or crisis in poetry.  The third line, "Rage, rage against the dying of the light" uses repetition. Repeating the word "rage" indicates the poet's strong feelings about his recommendation. He emphasizes the idea that those who are dying should not only rebel against it, but do so violently, by "raging." This line creates unity in the first stanza by repeating the main point the first line makes in somewhat stronger terms. The emphasis of "rage" also serves to connect this stanza to the rest of the poem. The second line, "Old age should burn and rave at close of day" forms a connection between line 3 and 5 by qualifying and explicating the first line while creating a platform for intensification in the third line. Line 2 indicates "old age" as one of the common human features preceding death. "Old age" is also personified to indicate "those who are old" and the ways in which they should not be "gentle;" they should "burn and rave" when faced with death. Like "night" and "dying of the light," "close of day" is another metaphor for death, where "day" and "light" are an almost "built-in" contrast to signify life. In the rest of the poem, Thomas provides several examples of those who have or should "not go gentle" and "rage." In the final stanza, the poem comes full circle by repeating both refrains. It also serves a clarifying purpose by indicating that the central recommendation of the poem to "rage" against dying is directed at the poet's father.

Poem Summary
What is the mood in the poem "Do Not Go Gently Into That Good Night" by Dylan Thomas? I have to write an essay comparing the two poems "Do Not Go Gently into That Good Night" by Dylan Thomas and "When You Are Old" by William Butler Yeats. I am comparing the mood, imagery and speaker or tone.

Both are great poems and this sounds like an excellent assignment. I would say that the tone in "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Goodnight" is a mixture of somber desperation. The speaker accepts that his father is at the very end of his life and is about to die, yet he is trying to awaken what little life he has left to persuade him to fight death, rather than allowing himself to be taken. Each stanza starts off with an example of a different type of person who has fought death: "Good men," "Wise men," "Grave men," "And you, my father..." The speaker is listing as many convincing examples as he can think of. He closes each stanza with the same line, "Rage, rage against the dying of the light." The repetition of the word "rage" her is used for emphasis. Saying it once is not enough. You can hear his desperation as the word and this line are both repeated. A quick note on "When You Are Old":

This poem's tone is much softer and more romantic. He is writing, specifically to his real-life love, Maud Gonne, about the way he wishes to imagine her as an old woman. She is warm and comfortable, "nodding by the fire," and he wants her to accept the end of her life remembering that she was loved: "But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you, And loved the sorrows of your changing face."

"Gentle" vs. "Gently"
Dylan Thomas’s choosing “gentle” instead of “gently” in crafting one of the two refrains in the poem often receives the attention of those who engage in literary analysis of the work. Since diction is of primary importance in poetry, it must be assumed that Thomas chose one word over the other with careful deliberation and for a specific reason. He would not have employed “gentle” to preserve the line’s iambic pentameter; both words are compatible with the meter of the refrain. Instead, the reason he selected “gentle” rather than “gently” is found in the meanings of the words and how they function within a sentence. In the difference between “gentle” and “gently” lies the heart of the poem—its major theme and the poet’s anguish as he witnesses his father’s dying. The obvious difference between the words, as often noted, is grammatical, the adjective vs. the adverb. In choosing “gentle,” the adjective, Thomas addresses his father’s emotional state as he dies. “Gently,” the adverb, would have related to how his father experiences the process of dying. In imploring his father not to go “gentle” into death, Thomas is urging him not to be gentle in spirit as he dies. To be made “gentle” is to be tamed by overwhelming force, broken in spirit and powerless to resist. Thus Thomas implores his father to resist being “gentled” by impending death. As the poem progresses, Thomas’s plea becomes a desperate prayer. He begs his dying father to remain the father he has known and loved. The poem’s first refrain, “Do not go gentle into that good night” expresses Thomas’s fear of his father’s identity, his emotional vitality and will to live, being crushed by the prospect of imminent death; the more powerful second refrain, “Rage, rage against the dying of the light,” reflects Thomas’s anguish as he considers losing the precious essence of his father even before his body dies.     Living and Dying in Nineteen Lines

Although death permeates every stanza of the poem like a shadow hovering over the poet and his father, “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night” concerns life and how it should be lived. Dylan Thomas as the poem’s voice argues that those who have reached old age should not willingly consent to dying; he does not, however, denigrate death itself. Death is a “good night,” he writes, and extending the metaphor, he observes that “wise men” understand that “dark is right.” In the context of the poem, death at the conclusion of a long life is “good” and “right” because it is natural; death is not an aberration in the natural cycle of life but is instead the culmination of it. Why then should those who are old “burn and rave at close of day”? Why do the old men in the poem, those who are “wise,” “good,” “wild,” and “grave,” resist dying—and should resist, as he contends? The answer lies in how they have lived and in the regret they experience as their lives draw to a close. Throughout the poem, being alive is associated with passion—with feeling deep emotion. It is also associated with using one’s gifts fully in the pursuit of something fine and truly remarkable. Thomas’s “wise men” and “good men” resist dying because they have not achieved what they could have achieved during their lives. His “wild men” had lived passionately as they “caught and sang the sun,” but they had failed to savor being alive, realizing “too late” their own mortality. The “grave men” resist dying because they understand with “blinding” insight that in their seriousness, they have not experienced the joy of being alive. Through the examples of these four types of men, Thomas affirms the brief and precious nature of being alive and defines how life should be lived—with passion, with joy, and with an elevating purpose not to be betrayed through inaction. Death is a “good night,” he believes, but dying should be resisted if a life, even a long life, has not been truly lived.   Analysis: Do Not Go Gentle Into The Good Night. (Dylan Thomas) 02DEC

In ‘Do Not Go Gentle’ Dylan Thomas addresses the helpless state to which old people are rendered to, and encourages them to not give in quietly to death and fight against its approach. In the first stanza Thomas says what he expects people who are close to death should do. He urges them to live life to its full extent even if they know that it is at an end. The next four stanzas go on to describe the kind of people who do not give in to death easily. It starts with wise men who, even though they know that death would, in the end conquer all, they still don’t cave in quietly as they know that things that they’ve said have not made any difference to the world. They need to make people see the truth of their words. This desire to be known, heard, and understood means that they are likely to fight death, perhaps because they feel there is yet more to do. Next comes the example of good men, who remained pious and righteous throughout their lives realize, on the nearing of death, that their good deeds are weak and could have been so much more, so they fight against death with a will to live on. Brave, adventurous men who did not know how short life is, and spent it all on wild expeditions, realize that soon life would be at an end, and so they fight to live on. Even old men who are on the brink of death view the world with a twinkle in their eyes, eager to see as much as they can before giving in to the darkness. The last stanza takes on an intensely personal tone as the poet directly addresses his father. This is a separate stanza which shows that he does not see his father as part of any of the afore mentioned categories, but rather he is a whole different category in himself. He implores his father, who is nearing old age and death, to curse at him only so that he can see the passionate man he once used to be. He pleads him to not give in to death, to fight against it with every breath in his body. The poem is in the form of a villanelle, six stanzas with a simple rhyming scheme that belies the complex message behind the poem. This message is made clear with a number of literary techniques, the most evident of which is repetition. The lines ‘do not go gentle’ and ‘rage rage against the dying of the light’ are repeated throughout the poem at the end of every stanza. These lines make use of an extended metaphor comparing death to the darkness of nightfall, and life to the bright day. Also a paradox is used in ‘good night’ where Thomas calls the uncertainty and inevitability of death, represented by nightfall, as good. Also the good deeds of the righteous men are personified as ‘dancing in the green bay’, which signifies life; as is the sun personified ‘as sun in flight.’ These used os personification also invoke a deep imagery which makes the reader imagine the sunset and the approach of nightfall, making the message behind the metaphor clear. Punning on ‘grave men’ Thomas uses a metaphor to again compare the brightness of their eyes to blazing meteors, showing the intensity of their will power to live on. Thus does Thomas, with the use of simple words, evoke strong emotions in the reader through this poem. A bold defiance is shown towards death, and he encourages those who are faced with it to share his passion for life. He pleads them to fight against its approach, even though he is well aware that in the end everyone has to cave in. No matter how worthless this fight against such an inevitable thing as death may seem one cannot help but commend the ferocity and fierceness of the poet, who has such a will to live on. It is an extremely encouraging poem, despite the fact that it repeatedly emphasizes the approach of death, as it simultaneously defies what it itself proves; that death is the conqueror of all. It ignites in one an intense passion for life and living, and no matter what problems one is facing in life, they seem insignificant when one thinks of the fact that it will all soon end and death will take over. People, especially the youth of today, have become so weak willed that the slightest difficulty in life bends them towards thoughts of death and suicide. They see in death, not an ending, but an easy way out. Thomas shows in this poem, not just asking for death, but even waiting for it to overcome one quietly is according to him, dishonorable and unjust. People should have an active will to live on, no matter their circumstances or age, as surrendering is cowardly and weak. The full extent of enjoying this poem lies in understanding and appreciating the message that Thomas conveys through the use of simple yet strong words.

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