Published in 1951, Dylan Thomas’s “Do not Go Gentle” is a fine example of a villanelle and clearly follows the controlled, rigid structure that the form demands. Beginning with five stanzas consisting of three lines each, the poem finishes with a lone stanza consisting of four lines. The rhyme scheme of the poem is ABAABAABAABAABAABAA and the poem is primarily written in iambic pentameter. The figurative language used in the poem is powerful and assertive, which serves the speaker well to make clear his message that one should fight intensely against the looming specter of death. In conjunction with the strong figurative language choices, the poem makes great use of diction and utilizes repetition to strengthen its message. Throughout the poem, the symbol of a setting sun frequently reappears, with the speaker making use of an extended metaphor relating the passage of a ...view middle of the document...
In the second stanza, the speaker expands upon the ideas presented in the first stanza,
continuing the metaphor of night as death and refers to it as “dark” this time around (4). The speaker notes that intelligent men know that death is unavoidable at the end of their lives, but since their words have “forked no lighting,” or not made a strong impression on others, the men feel that they are not ready to die, so they will not leave this mortal plane peacefully (5-6).
During the third stanza, we are presented with another group of men prepared to “rage” and meet their demise head on, with “the last wave” of “good men” lamenting the possibilities of their future actions and what could have been (7-9).
Stanza four introduces us to an additional band of men, this time the “wild men” who “caught and sang the sun in flight,” or who have always lived their lives to the fullest (10). Too late, these men realized the relative shortness of life, and “grieved” it towards the end and resolved to go out strong and not easily accept death (11-12).
The fifth stanza opens with a pun about “grave men, near death,” referring to men that are either near death themselves or are quite somber and serious (13). These men “see with blinding sight,” so even though their eyes are lacking, the men still plan to “blaze like meteors” and dramatically leave the Earth when it is time for them to die (13-15).
In the final stanza, the speaker begins to speak in the first person and reveals his personal connection to the matter at hand; his own father is dying and is on the precipice of death. The speaker implores his father to bless him with his “fierce tears,” showing that the speaker believes that the tears his father sheds should not be those of sadness, but indicative of the strength necessary to fight valiantly against death (16-17). The poem ends with the repetition of the two lines that serve as a refrain throughout, allowing the speaker to restate his overall message and why it has such great personal importance to him.