I. Background of the author:
Dylan Thomas was born in Wales in 1914. He was a neurotic, sickly child who shied away from school and preferred reading on his own; he read all of D. H. Lawrence's poetry, impressed by Lawrence's descriptions of a vivid natural world. Fascinated by language, he excelled in English and reading, but neglected other subjects and dropped out of school at sixteen. His first book, Eighteen Poems, was published to great acclaim when he was twenty. Thomas did not sympathize with T. S. Eliot and W. H. Auden's thematic concerns with social and intellectual issues, and his writing, with its intense lyricism and highly charged emotion, has more in common with the Romantic tradition. Thomas first visited America in January 1950, at the age of thirty-five. His reading tours of the United States, which did much to popularize the poetry reading as new medium for the art, are famous and notorious, for Thomas was the archetypal Romantic poet of the popular American imagination: he was flamboyantly theatrical, a heavy drinker, engaged in roaring disputes in public, and read his work aloud with tremendous depth of feeling. He became a legendary figure, both for his work and the boisterousness of his life. Tragically, he died from alcoholism at the age of 39 after a particularly long drinking bout in New York City in 1953.
Do not go gentle into that good night, a villanelle composed in 1951, is considered to be among the finest works by Welsh poet Dylan Thomas (1914–1953). Originally published in 1952, as part of the collection "In Country Sleep", it is one of his most-quoted works. It was written for his dying father. Another Welshman, John Cale, set the poem to music in 1989 and performed it at a concert held to celebrate the opening of the National Assembly for Wales.
Elliot del Borgo wrote a piece in 1979 by the same name for full orchestra, using hemiola and hymns in polyrhythms to portray the struggle of the poem in musical form.
Igor Stravinsky also wrote a musical work in 1954 that included this poem to commemorate the deceased poet.
A paraphrase of the first line of the poem was made memorable to an unwitting popular audience in the 1996 blockbuster action movie Independence Day during a critical speech by the President Whitmore character (played by Bill Pullman), demonstrating the poem's highy affective rhetorical value. The final line was also borrowed for the title of the 2001 film, Against the Dying of the Light, which commemorated the work of the National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales. The archive houses several rare recordings of Dylan Thomas himself, including his own reading of this very poem. This same line, "Rage, rage against the dying of the light" was also used by the English black metal band Anaal Nathrakh as the title for the last track on their 2004 album Domine Non Es Dignus.
When Rodney Dangerfield is asked what the poem means to him in the film Back to School his response is, “It means... I don't take shit from no one”.
II. Meaning of each stanza:
Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night
BY: Dylan Thomas
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 forked no lightning theyDo not go gentle into that good night. Good men, the last wave by, crying how brightTheir frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,Rage, rage against the dying of the light. 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. Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sightBlind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,Rage, rage against the dying of the light. 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.
Stanza 1: The first line is a command, “Do not go gentle into that good night.” Paraphrased, “Don’t give up easily.” The second line offers the speaker’s belief that even when old and infirm, the man should stay energetic and complain if necessary as long as he does not give in to death easily. Then line three again is a command, “Rage, rage against the dying of the light”: Fight, complain, rail against the oncoming of death.
Stanzas 2, 3, 4, and 5 each try to persuade the father to “rage against the dying of the light” by offering evidence of what wise, good, wild, and grave men have done. For example and to paraphrase stanza 2: Even though wise men know that they cannot keep death away forever and especially if they have not accomplished their goals in life, they don’t accept death easily; they “Do not go gentle into that goodnight” Similarly, in stanza 3, good men exclaim what might have been, their “frail deed” might have shone like the sun reflecting off the waters of a “green bay,” and they, therefore, “Rage, rage” against the oncoming of death. Likewise, in stanza 4, wild men whose antics seemed to shine as brightly as the sun and who thought they were so optimistic, but later realized they spent much of their life in grief, still they “Do not go gentle into that goodnight” And in stanza 5, grave men whose eyes are fading fast can still flash life’s happiness, as they “Rage, rage against the incoming of death ”
Stanza 6: The speaker addresses his father. Paraphrased, “And so my father you are nearing death—yell at me, scream at me, cry out; to see you do that would be a blessing for me and I beg you to show me that militant man you once were: “Do not go gentle into that goodnight ”
I. Theme of the poem: Encourages all poeple to fight death, not for their own sake, but to
give closure and hope to the relatives that are hoping for them.
It explains that every people must fight death. Don’t give up easily because you have a family, relatives and friend. The poem tells its reader to "rage" against dying, and it offers several examples of men who feel their lives unfulfilled, but it does not offer any reason why raging might be more appropriate than despair or peaceful acceptance of the absurdity of death. Anger is a heated, unreasoning emotion, and Thomas is too clever to try reasoning about it.
II. Style: The style of the writer is giving examples to encourage the people to fight death.
Thomas creates a morbid atmosphere that can be rivaled only by death. Also
descriptive. Because it describes the thins happen to the men that he example to
III. Tone: The tone of the writer is descriptive because he describes the things that the
men do in their lives. He is afraid to die.
IV. Message: Don’t give up easily.
Fight for our life that God gave to us.
Do the best that you can do.
Discover your strength and live life to the fullest.
V. Figurative Speech:
The form on the poem is a villanelle, with a rhyme scheme alternating “night” and “day.” “Good night” is a metaphor and a pun. “Dying of the light” is a metaphor. “Old age should burn and rave” in line two is a combination of metonymy and personification. “Close of day” is a metaphor. “Burn” in that same line is used metaphorically, as is “dark” in line four. In line five “their words had forked no lightning” is metaphorical. Line eight “Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay” employs personification and metaphor. Line ten “Wild men who sang the sun in flight” is exaggeration and metaphor. Line 11 “they grieved it on its way” is also exaggeration and metaphor. Line 13 “Grave” is a pun; “blinding sight” is an oxymoron. Line 14 “Blind eyes could blaze like meteors” is a simile. Line 17 “Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray” is a paradox.