Literary Analysis: Poetry
The poem, “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night” by Dylan Thomas is of villanelle structure, a simple lyric in French that is not regularly found in English. It is considered to have originated from the peasant songs sung in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. For Thomas, the poem’s entirely disciplined verse format and rhyme scheme gave structure through which he could convey both his father’s splendid character and an irresolute articulation of his affection towards him. Notably, in each stanza the poem has self-improvised lyrics and refrains. On the other hand, “A Psalm of Life” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow”, is a didactic poem in that the speaker gives the reader a moral lesson, advising them to become heroes in life. The poem was significantly influential specifically in the nineteenthcentury where it was broadly read and frequently memorized. However, today, it is often derided for its supposedly incoherent imagery and empty rhetoric. Line by line the speaker gives a response to Biblical teachings mainly Old Testament and accepts the ideology of Christianity that all the life of human beings is vain and that they came from dust and that, in the long run, they will return to dust.
“A Psalm of life” comprises of nine stanzas, each bearing four lines and has a regular rhyme scheme, “abab” where the first and third line rhyme and likewise the second and fourth lines rhyme. On the contrary, “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night” is a verse of nineteen lines comprising of fivetercets, group of three lines and a quatrain, four lines at the end.Simile refers to figurative speech that involves the comparison of a thing with another of a different kind making the description more vivid or emphatic and words such as “as” are used. In the poem by Dylan Thomas, he makes use of simile, for instance, I stanza five-second line, and “Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay”.
Similarly, in the poem by Longfellow, a simile is used, for example in stanza four line three, “Still, like muffled drums, are beating” and stanza five line three, “Be not like dumb, driven cattle!” While for a simile two things are compared, a metaphor equates them directly without using the words “like” and “as”, that is the comparison is implied though not stated clearly. The entire poem, “do not go gentle into that goodnight” is a metaphor, because an individual cannot rage against death though ultimately the speaker expresses the need to enjoy life, making the best out of it but not leave quietly. In the line, “Though wise men at their end know dark is right”,the word “dark” is used as a metaphor for death. Likewise, in “A psalm of life”, the speaker uses metaphor in lines such as, “Life is but an empty dream” and “soul is dead that slumbers”.
In poetry, a tone is the attitude of the author towards the work, which can be described with words such as critical, positive, negative, sympathetic and sarcastic.In the poem by Thomas, the tone can be said to be urgent since he is at the bedside of dying father and wants him to fight death, “rage against the dying of the light.” Contrary, the tone in Longfellow is inspirational just as the subtitle indicates, “What the Heart of the Young Man Said to the Psalmist”. Additionally, the speaker encourages the reader to live happily, “Life is real! Life is earnest”, and this inspires them to be optimistic in life. Diction is the choice and use of phrases and words in a writing and Thomas carefully chooses words to explain how devastated he is to lose his father, and he wants him to be strong and resist death. Words like, “do not go gentle”“fierce”, “wild”, “father”, “near death” and “grave men”. On the other hand, the diction appliedby Longfellow is whimsical and dream-like giving the poem a pleasant effect and encouraging the reader.
Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth and Robert Creeley. “A psalm of life.” Belfast, London: Marcus Ward & Company, 2004.
Thomas, Dylan. “Do not go gentle into that good night.” Botteghe Oscure (1952).