This a good full summary and analysis of Dylan Thomas’ “Do not go Gentle into that Good Night.” The biography of the poet would be traced and the poem critiqued from line to line. This is one of the best summary and analysis you’d read online and anywhere.
Biography of the Poet. Who is Dylan Thomas?
Dylan Thomas is the poet who write this poem. He was born in England in 1913. He left school at the tender age of 16, and worked briefly as a journalist. He began writing poetry at this time and gained a good level of recognition and popularity. However, he found it hard to earn a good amount of money through his writing or live off from his writing. He died in 1953 in New York after a brief illness.
Full Summary and Analysis of “Do not go Gentle into that Good Night”
The poem deals with the pain of someone who’s about to lose a loved one. The title itself is a metaphor or an action symbol representing a plea to someone not to die. The entire poem is a plea by the persona (speaker) of the poem to an unknown person not to leave and go gentle into that “good night.”
In the first stanza of three lines, the persona pleads with this person to fight it. There is an assumption that the person talked to is “old” and thus might be liable to die but the persona insist that he can still fight. There is the repetition of “Do not go gentle into that good night” and “rage” to illustrate how the unknown person is about to be lost and how he should fight against this attempt.
The persona makes mention of “wise men,” “old” and “grave” to state and perfectly present the picture of death. In the last and sixth stanza, the persona finally reveals who is being talked to as “my father.” Thus, the poem is born about of the tragedy befalling a person who is about to lose his father. The father may be terminally ill, and the persona by his side gives him words of encouragement to stay alive.
The father is advised not to go away quietly without putting a fight. Possibly, by putting a fight, he can evade the cold hands of death. More accurately, by raging against this death, he wouldn’t go gentle into that good night.
Themes in the Poem
- Death/Mortality: Death is the predominant motif in the poem. The persona presents the atmosphere surrounding death as a serious and grave one. Even associating death with the night is showcasing death as darkness and nothingness.
- Hope in the Moment of Death: Even though his father is at the verge of dying, the persona has hope and believes his father can fight it. He urges his father to fight. To the persona, the easiest way for his father to die is not to resist it.
- Necessity of Death: In some lines of the poem, the persona admits that death is a phase of life people would have to deal with. He mentions some people like “the wise men” and “the old.” These people know the necessity of death, and have come to terms with it. However, the person urges his father to resist it.
- Struggle against Death: This is the preoccupation of the speaker of the poem as he urges his father to fight against death and not resign to willingly die. He makes a repetitive use of “rage” in order to push his father to fight aggressively against death.
Poetic Devices/Figures of Speech or Sound in the Poem
- Metaphor: The title of the poem itself has metaphorical with “good night” representing death and “… go gentle into” representing the process of dying. It is also symbolical. There are other metaphors in the poem like “the dying of the light”- line 3 and “… green bay”- line 8.
- Euphemism: As the title and words like “… good night” are considered metaphor so are they considered as euphemism since they are express death and dying in a mild way.
- Hyperbole: “… fierce tears” – line 17 and “… wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight” – line 10.
- Simile: “… blind eyes could be like meteors” (line 14)
- Repetition: This is the most used figure of sound in the poem. Some group of words are often repeated to lay emphasis on the matter of “death” and “dying” like in “… do not go gentle into that good night” and “… rage.”
- Alliteration: “see … sight”- (line 13) and “… learn … late” – (line 11)
- Assonance: “rage, rage” – (line 3) and “crying … bright” (line 7)
Diction/Language of the Poem
The poem uses easy to understand words. There is also more use of active voice words to push the persona to fight for his life against death.
Structure of the Poem
This full summary and analysis of Dylan Thomas’ “Do not go Gentle into that Good Night” won’t be totally understood without writing about the structure of the poem. The structure of the poem is 6 stanzas of 19 lines. The first five lines are three lines each while the last one is four.