What imagery is in the two poems "Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night" by Dylan Thomas and "When You Are Old" by William Butler Yeats?I'm writing an essay about comparing and contrasting the two...

What imagery is in the two poems "Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night" by Dylan Thomas and "When You Are Old" by William Butler Yeats?

I'm writing an essay about comparing and contrasting the two poems "When You Are Old" and "Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night". The three main points are imagery, tone, and mood?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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As is true for all poets, the patterns of their relationships, beliefs, and loyalties are their poetic material.  Certainly, the poems of the two Irish poets, "Do Not Go Gentle Into the Night," and "When You are Old" evince such patterns with the imagery of these poems furthering their development. 

While these poems differ greatly in tone--Yeats's being much the more "gentle" despite Thomas's title--they both share the use of light/dark imagery.  In "Do Not Go Gentle Into the Night," for instance, Thomas asks his father to rage "against the dying of the light," or death while the speaker of Yeats's poem asks his beloved to  "murmur" and recall in her sleepiness the "shadows deep" of her eyes. 

Thus, there is more a retreat from the light into the depths of the soul and sentimentality in "Whe You are Old" as the speaker loves "the sorrows" of the beloved's "changing face." The final stanza completes this image of shadow and retreat from light:

And bending down beside the glowing bars,

Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled...

And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

But, Thomas's poem is fiery in its exhortations to fight age and approaching death. Rather than retreating from light, "Wild men...caught and sang the sun in flight."  Even "Blind eyes could blaze like meteors" rather than close their eyes in sleep as does the subject of Yeats's poem. 

 

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