Do Not Go Gentle

Do Not Go Gentle - At first glance, "Do Not Go Gentle...

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At first glance, “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” appears to be a poem about war or men dying unjustly; upon a second or third reading, the subject becomes even more baffling. Without secondary resources, primarily biographical information about the author Dylan Thomas, it would be almost impossible to fully interpret the nuances of this poem. Although much biographical information comes into play within the lines of “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night,” the most relevant information is simply to know that Thomas had an immense respect for his father as strong, good, and wise man- probably romanticized by Thomas’s poetic mind- and it was inexpressibly difficult for Thomas to watch his father who was once strong, now made weak, passive, and apathetic by his approaching death. The structure of this poem is complex. Dylan has used one of the most difficult structures, the villanelle. A villanelle is a poem of nineteen lines that begins with five stanzas of three lines (tercets) and a final quatrain of set pattern. “The first and third lines of the first tercet are repeated alternately as a refrain closing the succeeding stanzas and joined as the final couplet of the quatrain.” (American Heritage Dictionary) In other words, the pattern of repeated lines looks like AXB, XXA, XXB, XXA, XXB, XXAB. Not only must the creator of a villanelle stay confined to this pattern of line repetition, through the entire 19 lines, but also there can be only two words to rhyme with. (In this piece, perhaps symbolically, the rhyme scheme originates from “night” and “day”) Thomas further limits himself by keeping relatively the same beat and amount of syllables per line throughout the poem. The fact that Thomas created this masterpiece of a poem out of such a limiting structure and with primarily monosyllabic words should awe even those unfamiliar with the difficulty of writing poetry.
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Thomas makes use of numerous literary devices discussed in Studying Poetry; some of these devices include enjambment (lines 5-6) alliteration, and conceit. Although enjambment in lines five through six is discussed below, it would be of value to explore the way Thomas uses alliteration and conceit. The most obvious use of alliteration occurs in the title itself in the words “Go,” “gently,” and “good.” By repeating the “G” sound,
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Do Not Go Gentle - At first glance, "Do Not Go Gentle...

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