Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night

Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night Essay Questions

  1. 1

    What is the impact of the poem’s structure?

    Villanelles, which originated in the ballads of late medieval French poetry, are uncommon in modern poetry. In a discussion of Sylvia Plath’s “Mad Girl’s Love Song,” Philip K. Jason argues that the “villanelle is often used, and properly used, to deal with one or another degree of obsession.” The repetitiveness inherent in villanelles suggests this obsessiveness, and Thomas’s poem is no different, as the speaker calls on the dying to take on an obsessive concern with fighting death. The repetition inherent in the structure also adds to the urgency of the speaker’s tone and makes the introduction of the speaker’s father in the final verse more poignant, as it deviates from the pattern of lines about “wise men,” “good men,” “wild men,” and “grave men” in the preceding stanzas. The rhymes between the lines of the poem’s stanzas also reinforce their unity, which underlines the poem’s message that all admirable types of men resist death similarly.

  2. 2

    What is the significance of the poem's use of natural imagery?

    The natural imagery of “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night” reinforces the transience at the poem's center. Just as death is inevitable, the day must become night. Lightning, waves, and meteor showers are impermanent, lasting only for an instant, and even the sun will one day burn out, and is especially fleeting if one tries to “catch” it. By employing natural imagery, Thomas also reminds the reader that humans are ultimately simply part of nature as well, and will eventually decay and die just as every other natural thing does. Thomas regularly uses nature to underline ephemerality, and “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night” exemplifies this theme.