1 Who is speaking?
2 What kind of person is he or she? in what mood? thinking what thoughts?feeling what emotions?
3 Of whom or what is he or she speaking?
4 How is this person or object being described?
5 What attitudes are being projected?
6 Are we led to share the attitudes and emotions in sympathy or to rebel against them with feelings of anger or irony?
A poet whose words burst from the page in linguistic exuberance, Dylan Thomas writes in the form of a rhythmic villanelle a moving plea to his dying father, imploring him to affirm life until the end, rather than accept death quietly:
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.
- The son, who is Dylan Thomas, speaks to the father in this poem, although the father is not present.
- Thomas, the poet, is a young man with a distinctive voice, romantic, effusive, and melodic. His emotions are intense; he is angry that death has come for his beloved father, and he does not want his father to succumb to the forces that threaten his being. Instead, he asks his father to "Rage, rage against the dying of the night."
- "the dying of the light" and "that good night" are metaphors for death.Thomas does not want his father to succumb to these images.
- Dylan's father is facing death, although apparently from Dylan's letters to a friend, the former schoolteacher does not realize that he is dying. For, when he sent the poem to a friend, he wrote,"The only person I can't show the little enclosed poem to is, of course, my father who doesn't know he's dying."
- Although death is inevitable, Thomas as poet does not feel that his father should willingly accept fate. Instead, he wishes that the man would be like the men whom he describes in each stanza, men who catch "and sing the sun in flight"; men whose "words had forked no lightning"; men who "see with blinding sight."
- To Thomas, poetry is "the rhythmic, inevitably narrative, movement from an overclothed blindness to a naked vision." Certainly, "Do Not Go Gentle Into the Night" is such a transport from an acceptance of death to a rebellion of spirit against it. Indeed, the reader is led to share the poet's sense of urgency in his desire that the man not passively retreat from life. The reader, too, drawn to the disciplined form of the poem, is invited to share in the intensity of emotion that the poet expresses. As "grave," or serious men," those who read this poem are called to also affirm life until the very end, refusing to quietly accept death; instead "rag[ing] against the dying of that light" of life.