Sunday, March 8, 2009

Villanelle


Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night - Dylan Thomas (1914-1953)


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.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had worked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright,
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying light.

Wild men who caught and sang in the sun inflight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on that sad height,
Curse, bless, me with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.




“Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” by Dylan Thomas is a poem about fighting death. Thomas’ message is that you cannot just “gently” except death but you must “rage against” it. The repetition in this villanelle puts emphasis on the first and third lines of the first tercet. The emphasized lines are: “Do not go gentle into that good night” (line 1) and “Rage, rage against the dying of light” (line 3). He keeps repeating these two lines to emphasize that you should not just let your life slip away and you must fight death.

Thomas also uses literary devices to achieve his purpose. The “good night” is a metaphor for death in this poem and “light” is symbolic of life. Thomas uses metonymy in “Old age should burn and rave” (line 2). After doing some research I discovered that this poem was written while Dylan Thomas’ father was dying. This further illuminates the meaning of the poem. The first five stanzas exist to persuade the audience of the poem not to die. He tries to persuade his listener to “rage against the dying light.” In the last stanza, the intended listener is established as his father. He directly addresses his father saying, “And you, my father…”(line 16). “Do Not Go Gentle Into the Good Night” is an attempt at convincing his dying father to hold on to his life. This message is achieved through his use of literary devices and villanelle.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NlvAW2RIvXo

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