Poetry has always been misrepresented throughout the world as just rhyming but it is so much more than that. Poems are like clouds as everybody sees a different meaning behind each “cloud”. Hundreds of people may be asked what a poem means to them, most will say completely different ideas of what it means and people whose ideas share some similarities but never are exact copies. A poet that has stood out to me is Dylan Thomas and his poem “Do not go gentle ..”. Thomas uses many literary elements in this poem to help convey the feeling of dread throughout to the poem.
Thomas was born on October 27, 1914 in the region of South Wales. He grew up in the southwestern part of Wale. During this time his father taught english at the school that Thomas also attended. His grandparents being farmers allowed him to reside at their farm on holidays which inspired the poem “Fern Hill”(Davies, 10). Growing up Thomas enjoyed reporting having been a reporter in school and after.
His early works were collected into a collection in 1934. During World War 2 Thomas was called to fight in the war but ultimately spared because of his unhealthy lungs. Even though he did not go fight in the war he still suffered from it financially he wrote scripts for the BBC but sadly it could not support him. Which led to him writing for other companies to make ends meet.
During this time of war Thomas decided to move his family and while in Florence he wrote his most popular poem “Do not go gentle into that good night”.After the war BBC hired Thomas as regular having appeared on many radio talk shows becoming a sort of celebrity. During that time he also had his fifth poetry book published. Although he had a regular job and was very popular he still struggled financially. Thomas was known to have a problem with alcohol addiction which I believed originated from these times of distress. As he began to rise to fame as a poet he began to travel a lot more often.
In the fall of 1953 Thomas was planned to read poetries at many locations in the U.S but because of his addiction his doctor sadly worsened his problemed by prescribing morphine to help. He collapsed and fell into a coma and eventually passed on November 9, 1953. Thomas left behind three children with only one going into a literature field.Thomas was an inspiration to many poets and has left many works to be read. With his most popular being “Do not go gentle.
.”. This poem has left its mark in the world in literature and holds high praise from me as being my favorite poem.
This poem deals with a sensitive theme that many poems talk about but none have done as effectively and beautiful as Thomas has.Thomas uses many literary elements in this poem to help convey the feeling of dread throughout to the poem. From the start of the poem Thomas has already set a bleak tone with the lines “Old rage should burn and rave at close of day”(Thomas, 2). This choice of wording is very ominous and leaves the reader with a very strange sense of confusion. It sets the whole tone for the poem and allows the reader to use this as a tool for better understanding the meaning behind the poem. The phrase “Rage, rage against the dying of the light”(Thomas, 3) is repeated all throughout the poem and seems to be similar to the “Don’t go into the light” which is a phrase commonly heard to a person that is passing away.
This also seems to be a plea of sorts to the dying of fighting the light and evading it. The line “Though wise men at their end know dark is right”(Thomas, 4) seems to be some type of metaphor for death and how it is part of the cycle of life. Comparing it to the line before it there appears to be some sort of a contradiction between the two as one seems to fight death and the other understands that it must happen naturally.
Those lines also seem to suggest that the speaker is conflicted about the death of a loved one as he uses those lines that seem to oppose each other.One line that has stood out to me is “because their words had forked no lightning” (Thomas, 5) because of the meaning behind this metaphor. This seems to be a way of saying how they want to leave a mark on earth and not die in vain. Which seems to be a point that resonates with people I have asked about the poem and personally. The line ” their frail deeds might have danced in the green bay” (Thomas, 8) seems to be another contradiction of this poem as it seems to say that the good deeds done by man have no real value. In all these lines the use of literary elements have helped push this theme of dread and death. Literary elements if used carefully and wisely help any story come to life but the use of them in this poem knocks it out of the park. Such as the use of metaphors when referring to life and death, they are referred to as “light” and “night”, respectively, by Thomas.
Within the context of the poem these metaphors make the poem more darker and bleeker. Using the words life and death would not help create the same atmosphere and tone throughout the poem.Alliteration is the repetition of the same letter or sound within a stanza and it is a great literary element to help the theme of this poem thrive. This can be seen in the lines “Rage, rage..”(Thomas, 3) and “Blind eyes could blaze like meteors”(Thomas, 14).
This gives life to the poem and helps the theme of death flow across the lines in such a beautiful way. The structure of the poem also greatly benefits from this as the poem in whole flows very well and is not awkward at all. Personification and similes go hand in hand in this poem as both compare one thing to another. Personification is giving human qualities to inanimate objects such as in the line “Rage, rage against the dying of the light”. This line gives light the human quality of dying, which a light cannot do. Similes are comparing things using like or as, shown in the line “Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay”(Thomas,14). These literary elements overall help the poem have a much deeper meaning than intended because without the use of said elements the poem would be very bland, have no sustenance, and have no meaning at all.
The poem helps bring death and dread into a new light by going into the grim parts of it but at the same time also giving it almost human qualities making it a beautiful and natural experience. I have not read a poem that has done the same thing this poem has and I believe there is no poem to change that. Thomas experienced many hardships throughout his life having to deal with a world war and an addiction to alcohol that would end up being an ultimate cause of his demise. The inspiration he has been and continues to be almost 75 years after his demise proves that he will live on forever. He will forever live on through his work and will be a figure that will be studied throughout the education lifespan and will be regarded as one of the greatest poets of his time.