“Do Not Go Gentle Into that Good Night” by Dylan Thomas
1. What is the tone of the poem?
The poem’s tone is one of anger and persuasion. The speaker is urging readers to not succumb to death.
2. What is the “dying of the light”?
The dying of the night is a metaphor for death.
3. As the note above the poem suggests, it is an example of a villanelle. A villanelle is a poem consisting of 19 lines, but only two rhymes. It also repeats two lines throughout the poem. Why do you think Thomas has chosen to write his poem following the traditional form of a villanelle?
Answers may vary. Example: Thomas writes a villanelle to show the constrictions placed on men by death. By writing his poem about rebellion in a constricting form, its theme is reinforced.
4. According to the first stanza, what does the speaker seem to be asking? Put your response in your own words.
Answers may vary. Example: The speaker is saying that you should fight against dying and that old age should not be a reason to give in to death.
5. What kind of men should rage against the dying of the light? What four types of men does Thomas address?
Thomas addresses “wise men,” “good men,” “Wild men,” and “grave men.”
6. Consider the punctuation used in the first two lines of the poem’s last stanza. What do the caesurae (commas) suggest about the speaker’s feelings toward his father?
The commas separate the speaker’s ideas and add a feeling of spontaneity to the words. The second line, “Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray” does not suggest that the speaker wants to be cursed and blessed by his father, but rather that he has cursed, blessed, and prayed for his father. The speaker, the son, is forced to live with the pain of the dead father: “me now with your fierce tears.”