ACP Literary Interpretation L202
Men’s Grave Death
Dylan Thomas's most famous poem, "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night" is known by its first line and its poetic form of villanelle. The poem's true importance lies not in its fame, but in the raw power of the emotions underlying it. It intrigues us to not just "go gentle into that good night" (Thomas, 1), but to rage against it. Even at the end of life, when "grave men" (13) are near death, the poem instructs us to burn with life. This paper will explore and expand on the idea of life and fight and how they go hand in hand relating to the author. Thomas uses the poem to address his dying father, mourning his father's loss of health and strength, and encouraging him to cling to life. It is a strong invocation for us to live boldly and to fight. It means those who actually live out their lives will better see how life has been bright for them, before going towards the sleep of death. The speaker emphasizes that older men should fight fiercely and strongly against death. The purpose of fighting against death is to realize the importance of being alive. The poet believes that goodness comes from fighting against death with full force and might.
The speaker addresses an unknown listener, telling him not to "go gentle into that good night." At first this is a confusing metaphor but, by the end of line 3, the speaker is using night as a metaphor for death. The span of one day represent a man's lifetime, which makes the sunset his approaching demise. "That good night" is reworded at the end of line 2 as the "close of day," and at the end of line 3 as "the dying of the light." It's not an accident or coincidence that the metaphor for death keeps getting repeated at the end of the lines either, or that the two rhyming words that begin the poem are night and day. So what does the speaker want to tell us about death? He thinks that old men shouldn't die peacefully or just slip easily away from his life. They should "burn and rave," (2) struggling with a fiery intensity. The word "rave" in line 2 connects with the repeated word "rage" (3), uniting anger, power, madness, and frustration in a tornado of emotion. This phrase conveys a powerful message that, when death approaches, one needs to know what made his life meaningful, and he should never fear death. People can use this message for encouragement, like if a father, mother, or grandmother is seriously ill and is coming close to their end, then their children can leave them with a little strength and fight. It can serve the same function such as if someone is considering suicide, and someone else is trying to talk them down from it.
Even though smart people know death is inevitable, they don't just accept it and let themselves go, because they may not have achieved everything they were capable of yet. The metaphor of night as death continues here, with death figured as the word "dark." The speaker admits that smart peo...