BACKGROUND Do you know someone named "Dylan"? Chances are he was probably named (indirectly) after Dylan Thomas! Thomas's father named him after a Celtic sea god, and when the younger Thomas became famous, "Dylan" became a popular name in Britain and the U.S. When Dylan Thomas was four years old, he was already able to recite poetry by Shakespeare. Dylan Thomas was a colorful character; his boorish, drunken behavior and self-destructive ways were legendary. For example, some sources claim that, while driving drunk on his way to meet Charlie Chaplin, he crashed his car into Chaplin's tennis court. It's hard to sort out fact from fiction, but if he were alive today, he'd be tabloid material right up there with Tom Cruise, Paris Hilton, and Britney Spears. A good reason you should always "enter to win": Dylan Thomas became famous after winning a poetry contest in a newspaper in 1933.
SUMMARY The speaker asserts that old men at the end of their lives should resist death as strongly as they can. In fact, they should only leave this world kicking and screaming, furious that they have to die at all. At the end of the poem, we discover that the speaker has a personal stake in this issue: his own father is dying.
THEME Dying should not be accepted passively. The loss of life should be regretted and fought against until the bitter end.
MOOD Defiant –To combat or challenge death. Not to go willingly into death but the fight it with the last breath. Fiery – spirited. Again to show that one must not die willingly but to fight death.
STRUCTURE Villanelle: Popularised mainly in France in the 16 th century. It usually expresses pastoral, idyllic sentiments. Lines: 19 Number of stanzas: 6 Lines in each stanza: Three lines (tercet) in the first 5 stanzas; four lines (quatrain) in the last stanza
Refrains: The first and third lines of the stanza one must be repeated in the other stanzas ◦ Line 1 on the first stanza repeated in: Stanza 2,4,6 ◦ Line 3 of the first stanza repeated in: Stanza 3,5,6
Rhyme End Rhyme ◦ aba in the first 5 stanza ◦ abaa in the last stanza
Stanza 1 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. Metaphor : DEATH, sunset his approaching demise. Oxymoron: ‘good death’ if one view death as not good Pun: 1. death 2. goodbye Assonance To talk furiously or wildly or deliriously A fit of violent anger The speaker addresses an unknown listener, telling him not to "go gentle into that good night."
Point of View: Thomas begins the poem with second- person point of view, telling his father and other readers to "fight till the last gasp," as Shakespeare said. go gentle: Go becomes a copulative verb, permitting the use of the adjective gentle rather than the adverb gently. close of day: end of life light: will to live; spirit, soul, mind; hope
Stanza 2 Though wise men at their end know dark is right, Because their words had forked no lightning they Do not go gentle into that good night. Metaphor: Lightning is compared to attention, notice--that is, their words had received no attention., they may not have achieved everything they were capable of yet. Alliteration Metaphor: night/dark compared to death.
Point of View: Thomas shifts to third-person point of view. Here he is making a declarative statement when he says wise men "do not go gentle." right: inevitable, unavoidable; natural forked no lightning: failed to command attention; failed to express a startling or revolutionary concept. In meteorology, "forked lightning" describes a lightning strike that divides into two or more branches resembling the roots of a plant--or, metaphorically, a fork. they do: enjambment
Stanza 3 Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay, Rage, rage against the dying of the light. are about to crash against the shore, or die Man is like a wave, death is like the breaking of the wave on the shore, the sea is like life, and the dancing waters in the ocean are like beautiful actions. Metaphor: compared to death Personification: how great their actions could've been if they'd been allowed to live longer.
Point of View: Thomas continues third-person point of view. Parallel Ideas: Good men has the force of wise men in the previous stanza. The message expressed in both stanzas is similar: Men facing death realize they could have done more and thus fight against the dying of the light. crying: weeping or shouting bright their: another instance of enjambment
Stanza 4 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. Alliteration: sang sun; learn late Metaphor: Implied comparison of achievement to catching the fire of the sun and to singing the world they celebrated was slowly dissolving around them as they age and die.
Point of View: Thomas continues third-person point of view. Parallel Ideas: Wild men has the force of good men in Stanza 3 and wise men in Stanza 2. The message is the same as in Stanzas 2 and 3. Wild... flight: These men had their moment in the sun, so to speak. But they lived most of their lives in shadows, grieving over daily travails. Word “flight” implies the short lifespan of people living in this world. they grieved it: dismissed it; sent it. They did not seize the moment and capture what it offered them.
Stanza 5 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 Oxymoron Simile Alliteration: See sight, blinding blind blaze Assonance: Blaze gay rage Light-hearted, sportive, mirthful, showy and brilliant
Point of View: Thomas continues third-person point of view. Parallel Ideas: Grave men has the force of wild men in Stanza 4, good men in Stanza 3 and wise men in Stanza 2. The message is the same as in Stanzas 2 and 3. Grave men: Serious men. It seems that Thomas veers close to bathos (anti-climax)here, for the words can be read as a prosaic pun. bathosprosaic blinding sight: an oxymoron to convey the idea that dying men with failing eyes see with illuminating insight blaze... gay: A blind man can see in other ways and even "blaze" with ideas and zest for life
Stanza 6 And you, my father, there on the sad height, Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray. Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light. Oxymoron verge of death
curse, bless: In effect, "if you cursed me, you would be blessing me." Cursing his son would show that he still has fire, spirit, the will to fight