Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night Questions and Answers
by Dylan Thomas

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What is a critical analysis of "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night" by Dylan Thomas ?

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An original poet of great power and beauty, Dylan Thomas writes to his dying father, "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night," a poem constructed in the form of a villanelle. This personal message is deeply personal and filled with a violence of imagery and emotion.

Interestingly, the villanella and villancico were originally Spanish and Italian dance songs that celebrated life. So, there is the suggestiveness of the enjoyment of life all the way to the end even in the poetic form that Thomas has chosen, as well as in the content. This villanelle has the traditional form of 19 lines which consist of 5 tercets followed by a quatrain. There are 2 refrains that are accompanied by 2 repeating lines. The first and third lines of the first tercet are alternately repeated throughout the poem until the last stanza. This stanza concludes the poem by repeated both the first and third lines. (Thus, one can imagine how this form was once a dance song.)

Thomas's verses are indeed powerful as he constructs a moving and strident plea to his father to affirm life until the very end rather than to submit passively to death. In the second tercet, Thomas explains that the good deeds that he and others have done might show to better advantage if more men were to "rage against the dying of the night" because their words might have "forked...lightning." 

This plea to rage against death affirms Thomas's major theme of the continuing process of life and death and new life that links the generations to each other. He rails against those whose minds are closed to this idea in his metaphoric expressions of "the dying of the light" and "blinding sight." For instance, in the fifth stanza, with his typical violent imagery, Thomas writes:

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay....

Dylan Thomas's carefully crafted poem, whose rhyme scheme is constructed around the two contrasting words, "night" and "day," also provides several contrasting images, such as "blind" and "blaze," "curse" and "bless." This use of contrasts contributes greatly to the intensity of meaning and highly personal tone of very emotional poem. "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night" is, indeed, a powerful and intense work of art.

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