Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night

The title of the poem serves as the opening remarks of the speaker to an old man. In the entire poem, the speaker artistically dramatizes a strong invocation. He desires the old dying man to wage a battle with death, to rage at the end of life hence the most prominent theme is senility and nearing death. In the first stanza, the speaker uses the phrase good night to imply a good death. He is encouraging the old man to resist death gently (Dylan, 2). Rage, as used, is also an indication of the speaker’s desire for a violent resistance to death.

Stanza two displays the attitude of the wise men who notice the approach of death. They have not accomplished as much as they would desire and as such, hold on to life just to attain their life goals. The speaker further show how the good men face death. That is; the moralists who live by a strict code of conduct and he has a strong conviction that goodliness as a virtue includes contending the fate of all humanity and death (Dylan, 7).

The last wave has been used as a metaphor in stanza three and by it, the speaker is referring to the generation existing at his time, he compares their fate to that of a crashing ocean waves. In the fourth stanza, the speaker focuses on the wild men. He portrays them to have indulged in life so much that they have failed to remember that they are mortals. These men symbolizes the serenity of nature and sing the sun in light (Dylan, 11).

The attitude of grave man is the center of focus in the fifth stanza. This category symbolizes seriousness and death. Despite the being at the verge of death, they still want to contend with death. In the stanza, the speaker uses a paradox; blind sight. This is obviously a reference to his father who had lost his sight. In the last stanza, the speaker now addresses his father with solemnity. He acknowledges how close his father is to the grave and perceives that as the sad height and pleads with him to fight it (McCrory, 15).

It is not clear as to whether there is a conflict but considering the fact that the speaker is urging a geriatric person to resist death. It is worth noting that the speaker is in a sense dreaded by the thought of death as it is seen in the first line of the third stanza. The audience does not respond and the speaker does not mention anything on that note and so it becomes difficult to state whether the conflict is resolved or not (Thomas, 13).

The speaker is the author of the poem who happens to be addressing his ailing father. In this regards, the poem is typical of its literal period. Dylan’s father, D. J Thomas, was ill at the time the poem was penned. His state of health deterioration included losing his sight. The speaker himself was a heavy drinker and that put his own health in jeopardy and as such, he was not only imploring his father to boldly fight but was also contending with his own death (Thomas, 15). He is thus motivated to talk about human weaknesses in general. The reader is encouraged to wage war and rage against whatever forces that oppose the progress of life.

It is easier to identify only two characters in the poem. However, on a closer examination, the reader notices that the speaker mentions the wise, good and wild men in the second, third and fourth stanza respectively. This implies that the speaker is using the life skills of them that had lived to encourage his gravely ill father. It is not clear if those are three distinct groups of people but it is obvious that they are the other characters mentioned in the poem that can best be identified as philosophers and scholars (McCrory, 12).

The general course of the story is death which despite being a natural part of life, the speaker urges the reader to fight against. The speaker assents the value of fighting for life. As stated earlier, the poem also seems to be pointing to life adversities in general urging the reader to always keep fighting up to the last moment. The concept of death as a dread is clearly manifested by the speaker who is trying to evade grief as is seen in the first couple of lines in the last quatrain (Thomas, 07). From a superficial point of view, the reader can assume that the setting of the narration is at dusk when darkness is creeping. However, there is no any implication of time of year; the speaker also fails to shed any light of his location.

The poem takes the form of a villanelle. A poem with nineteen lines with the first and last lines of stanza one used in alternately in the last lines of the subsequent stanzas except the last one. The last stanza has both lies hence a total of four lines as opposed to three in the stanzas before. These two line form a rhythmic couplet. It is also worth noting that the second line in each stanza form a rhyme with each other and as such. The same is also seen in the first and third line.

The poem has regular metrical and rhymed lines. The iambic pentameter is also evident and has five beats and ten syllables in each lie. In the nineteen lines, there are splits of fie tarcets and a quatrain. The reader also easily pauses before the next line hence the use of enjambment. By these characteristics, it does not fall under the category of a blank verse poem. The skills used comply with the typical benchmarks of a villanelle, the lines are fixed. It is limited to the regular rhyme and rhymes scheme. The poem has a regular meter and as such, it does not fall into the category of free a verse poem (McCrory, 09).

The short poem has strong diction portraying a very sharp contrast for example gentle and good, burn and rave, frail and danced, rage and rage, curse and bless fierce tears to. Strongly opposing words have been used to imply the waging forces at play namely war and rebellion against death. The intensity of words also denotes intensity of passion.

The speaker skillfully applies literature devices. Good night has been used metaphorically to express death. Given the known history of the author’s father who was also losing his sight. It could also be true to say that night in this sense is also an implication of blindness (McCrory, 12). Back to the concept of death, the reader can deduce that light is a symbol of life while death is that if death. It is portrayed as close of day and this brings out the imagery nature. Imagery has also been employed by the use of such words as burn and rave to express the youthful passion.

A paradox is, however, seen in the last stanza where the reader implies that a good night or death picks up the simile of blazing meteors. The speaker again makes a paradoxical request to his father by asking to be blessed and cursed. Alliterations are also profound in words used for example gentle and good, not and night (Thomas, 11). These give an iambic pentameter with the vocabulary having more monosyllables than polysyllables. Parallelism is also manifested by the presence of three kinds of men; wise, good, and wild and the speaker desires that his father emulates these three.

The concept of contrast is seen when the speaker uses words such as day and night, gentle and rage, light and darkness, blind and sight, grave and gray and curse and bless (Dylan, 12). Repetition is so profound and is style seen throughout the poem as lies from stanza one are used in subsequent stanzas. Assonance is seen in line one stanza two and line one stanza five. The last lines of stanzas one, three, five and six have a sense of internal rhyme scheme.

The artistic stanzaic, syntaxic and linear arrangement of the poem has not only a visual significance but also a verbal one. It is appealing to the reader and the stanza distinctions make it easy to identify the villanelle nature of the poem. The rhythm and meter bring out the musicality in the poem.

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