Table of Contents
Life and History of Dylan Thomas
The poet, Dylan Marlais Thomas, was reported to have been born on October 27, 1914, in Swansea, South Wales (Academy of American Poets). There were factors that were deemed to be contributory to his prowess in poetry. For one, it was disclosed that his father, David John Thomas, had a profound influence in his literary skills by virtue of his father’s profession as an English literature professor (Academy of American Poets). Moreover, historical documents also revealed that Thomas was exposed and immersed on the works of Shakespeare even before he could actually read. Furthermore, the relevance of the English language must have been inculcated to Thomas and his sister, since their parents were noted to be speak Welsh fluently; yet, both of them were revealed never to have learned the native Welsh language. Concurrently, another factor which influenced his enthusiasm in poetry is his alleged possession of a neurotic personality and being a sickly child. As such, it was learned that Thomas “shied away from school and preferred reading on his own” (Academy of American Poets par. 2). The seemingly bad-tempered child was also described in the book entitled Dylan Thomas: A New Life written by Andrew Lycett, where Thomas was clearly described as a petulant child who frequently cried, had difficulty sleeping, and manifested nuisance in keeping his food down. Eventually, Lycett mentioned that Thomas’ main affliction was traced to asthma, which was apparently ascribed to have been sourced from weak lungs or wheezy chest.
A quick overview of Thomas’ life revealed that his fascination and interest in the English language led him to write poems during childhood. Accordingly, Thomas befriended Daniel Jones, and they both were noted to have written hundreds of poems together (The Famous People). Tomas’ poems alone number 100 despite living a short life and dying at the age of 39 (The Famous People). As learned, Thomas’ actually left school when he was just 16 years of age and eventually became a reporter for South Wales Daily Post. His work at the South Wales Daily Post was reported to be short-lived and from then on, Thomas wrote poems while working as a freelance journalist (The Famous People). However, Thomas apparently encountered drinking problems, which apparently provided the impetus for his early demise
On his personal life, Thomas was noted to marry Caitlin Macnamara, a dancer, and they had three (3) children: “Llewelyn Edouard, was born on 30 January 1939 (d. 2000). Their daughter, Aeronwy Thomas-Ellis, was born on 3 March 1943 (d. 2009). A second son, Colm Garan Hart, was born on 24 July 1949” (Poem Hunter 1). Despite being married, reports also indicated that both Thomas and his wife, Caitlin, apparently had multiple affairs (The Famous People).
During his apparent visit in the United States in 1953, Thomas was reported to supposedly read poetries in about 40 universities all over the country. However, he allegedly felt unwell and was noted to have relied heavily on inhalers. Finally, while dining at a New York restaurant to celebrate his 39th birthday, Thomas was reported to have collapsed. He was learned to be administered with morphine by his attending physician which put Tomas in a coma. He eventually died on November 9, 1953, with his demise being attributed to pneumonia allegedly brought about by alcoholism (The Famous People).
Interpretation of “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night”
The poem entitled “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” was reportedly “famed for the strong emotions it incites. Many consider it to be the best example of villanelle” (The Famous People). The poem is written in six (6) verses, with the first five (5) verses containing three (3) lines each; and the last verse contains four (4) verses consistent with the structure of a villanelle (Thomas). In another discourse, Thomas’ impetus for having written the poem was the impending death of his father (Spacey). Accordingly, “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night is a poem that meant a lot to Dylan Thomas, who wanted to see his father face death in a blaze of defiance” (Spacey 1). Thus, the main theme of the poem was defiance against death with the message directed to Thomas’ father, as perceived from the literary elements used in the poem.
Thomas used visual imagery by using words that appeal to the physical senses of the readers. For instance, in the fifth verse, Thomas wrote “Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay” (par. 5), indicating how people on the verge of death, who could already be blind, could defiantly fight death if their sense of sight could blaze like meteors, or raging heavenly bodies, and prolong life to the maximum.
Likewise, there was use of metaphor where night was considered a representation of death. As such, the phrases ‘close of day’ in the second line, as well as ‘dying of the light’ also meant that the person is nearing transition into the afterlife. In similar thoughts, “the sun in flight” is a part of the extended metaphor in which day is a circle of life and the flying of sun represents the bright and beautiful part of life. “The sun in flight” also represents life is short and transient” (Guo and Wang 1).
Moreover, Thomas also used alliteration which was evident through the sounds of ‘g’ in the words: Go, Gentle, and Good, which were repeated several times to affirm and emphasize the driving forces initiating people facing death to fight it with might. Just as well, the words Not and Night also evidenced the use of alliteration and assists in sending the intended message with clarity.
In sum, through the effective use of literary elements of visual imagery, metaphor, and alliteration, among others, Thomas was able to rely to the readers the theme of defying death with the remaining physical power and strength to maximize what remains in life. Moreover, through application of these literary elements, Thomas was able to entice attention from the readers, especially through visual imagery which appeal to the physical senses. In addition, the application of metaphor assisted in making a hidden comparison between and among death and life. Finally, the use of alliteration assisted Thomas in emphasizing words that stress the intended meaning that he wants to relay. As realized, the poem clearly sought readers to realize that people could actually encourage loved ones who could be facing death, to bravely and defiantly fight it as a means to prolonging life. This is the message that Thomas wanted to relay to his father, who had been his mentor and inspiration towards exemplifying his prowess as a poet.
- Academy of American Poets. “Dylan Thomas.” n.d. poets.org. Web. 4 December 2017.
- Guo, Lei and Lan Wang. “Poetic Analysis on “Do not Go Gentle into That Good Night”.” July 2016. sciencepublishinggroup.com. Web. 4 December 2017.
- Lycett, Andrew. Dylan Thomas: A New Life. The Overlook Press, 2005. Print.
- Poem Hunter. “Biography of Dylan Thomas.” 3 December 2017. poemhunter.com. Web. 4 December 2017.
- Spacey, Andrew. “Analysis of Poem “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” by Dylan Thomas.” 14 December 2016. Letter Pile. Web. 4 December 2017.
- The Famous People. “Dylan Thomas.” n.d. thefamouspeople.com. Web. 4 December 2017.
- Thomas, Dylan. “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night – Poem by Dylan Thomas.” 3 December 2017. poemhunter.com. Web. 4 December 2017.