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DYLAN THOMAS

By Jeremy Lewis,2014-01-29 01:03
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DYLAN THOMASdylan,Dylan

    DYLAN THOMAS

    (1914-1953)

    BIO:

    ; born in Swansea, Wales

    ; father =

    o schoolteacher, read Shakespeare, Bible

    o interest in words for DD

    ; left school at 16, became a reporter 15 months) ; WWII: BBC documentary film editor, radio broadcaster

* of boyhood reminiscence:

    ; Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog (1940) stories,

    ; Quite Early One Morning (1954) stories,

    ; Under Milk Wood (1954) verse drama

; original dramatist, essayist

    ; greatest lyric poet of his generation

    ; Dylan Thomas: 1940s:

    o return to stylized, extravagant, romantic rhetoric

    o rejected by Philip Larkin (as romantic excesses)

POETRY:

    ; childhood influences =

    o Wales setting, Shakespeare, Bible, nursery rhymes (sound over meaning *)

    ; writing poetry since a small boy

    ; 1st published volume at 19

    ; published regularly during 1930s

(1) early poetry =

    ; frustratingly difficult to read & understand ; "I like contradicting my images"

    ; obsessed with mortality/death (the power that gives life takes it) ; Eighteen Poems (1934), Twenty-Five Poems (1936)

2) later poetry =

    ; less obscure

    ; more simple, direct style

    ; ceremonial style

    ; accepts death: perpetual cycle of death & rebirth ; Deaths and Entrances (1946) = his most famous collection ; "Fern Hill" (1946)

    o nostalgic recollection of a childhood holiday on a farm ***nostalgia (EVW, GO)

    ; lamentation ("threnodies") like Milton's Lycidas, Gray's Elegy, Shelley's Adonais, Arnold's Thyrsis ; lost youth

    ; Eden before the Fall

    ; mortality, corruption, time

    “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night” (1957) ; villanelle

    o pastoral themes/subjects line 1 - a - 1st refrain line 10 - a thline 2 - b line 11 - b ; Italian rustic song (16 C) thline 3 - a - 2nd refrain line 12 - a - (line 1) ; French poem (16 C)

    o light, simple verse line 4 - a line 13 - a ; IRONY line 5 - b line 14 - b ; light form @ death line 6 - a - (line 1) line 15 - a - (line 2)

    ; light tone @ serious topic

    line 7 - a line 16 - a ; simple structure but complex theme

    line 8 - b line 17 - b o ―To an Athlete Dying Young‖ line 18 - a - (line 1) line 9 - a (line 2) o ―Not Waving but Drowning‖ line 19 - a - (line 2) o 19 lines ; 5 stanzas of three lines (tercet) ; 1 stanza of four lines (quatrain)

    o line length = none

    o rhyme scheme strd; 1 and 3 lines:

    ; alternate as last lines of stanzas 2, 3, 4 th; end 5 stanza as couplet

    ; repetition:

    ; to repeat key lines

    ; to reinforce theme/message

    ; to delve more deeply into his material

    ; to revise, amplify, and show more facets of what the poet feels

    ; tone

    o angry, defiant

    o desperate

    o DABDA

    ; Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance

    ; Kubler-Ross

    ; to his dying father

    ; 4 men, 4 reactions to death

    ; double meanings & paradoxes, pun ; speaker:

    o son to dying father

    ; speaker‘s claim/thesis (message):

    o it is not fitting, honorable for a man such as he (great, interesting) to submit meekly to death

    o do not resign yourself to dying but ―fight it‖

    ; ―persuasive essay‖ structure: ndo stanza #1: claim, thesis (2 person POV) rdo stanzas 2, 3, 4, 5: examples (3 person POV) ndo stanza #5: conclusion, personal plea (2 person POV) ; Stanza #1: ndo 2 person POV

    o 3 independent clauses

    o old age ―should‖ ―so‖ you should

    o ―go gentle‖ & not ―go gently‖ (copulative/joining sense)

    ; adjective refers to the person, don‘t be gentle

o ―good night‖ = death, good-bye

    ; ―good‖ b/c death is a good thing

    ; or meant sardonically

    o ―light‖

    ; light of day life

    ; life = a day, death = sunset

    ; light = will to live, spirit, soul, hope, mind (faltering of body)

    ; Stanza #2: rdo 3 person POV

    o 2 subordinate clauses + 1 independent clause o EX: ―wise men‖

    o ―dark is right‖ echoes that the night is ―good‖

    o right = inevitable (logical, reasonable, rational), natural, unavoidable

    o ―forked no lightning‖: unoriginal, of no worth/impact, nothing spectacular; did not divert from the

    path, followed the given ―flash‖

    ; poets & poetry who wrote in the same way, did not challenge, did not change

    ; BUT this poem does that

    ; Shakespeare

    ; ee cummings

    ; Emily Dickinson

    ; Dylan Thomas

    o RAGE b/c these dying men realize they could have/should have done more

    ; Stanza #3: rdo 3 person POV

    o 1 independent clause

    o EX: ―good men‖

    o ―crying‖ weeping (fits w/regret) & shouting (latter fits w/―rage‖)

    o ―frail deeds‖ = previous ―words that forked no lighting‖

    ; cannot stand on their own

    ; unoriginal, uninspired

    ; BUT this poem does that

    ; Shakespeare

    ; ee cummings

    ; Emily Dickinson

    ; Dylan Thomas

    o ―might have‖

    ; regret, if only, woulda/coulda/shoulda o ―danced in a green bay‖ = personification, evocative imagery, romantic

    o RAGE b/c these dying men realize they could have/should have done more

    ; Stanza #4: rdo 3 person POV

    o 1 independent clause

    o EX: ―wild men‖

    o who caught and sang the sun in flight

    ; had the talent, skill

    o grieved it on its way

    ; didn‘t realize what they had (don‘t know what you‘ve got ‗til it‘s gone)

    ; got caught up in the daily grind, fretted over the ―little things/small stuff‖

    ; always worrying & not enjoying the moment o regret learn, too late

    o RAGE b/c these dying men realize they could have/should have done more

; Stanza #5: rdo 3 person POV

    o 1 independent clause

    o EX: ―grave men‖

    o ―grave‖ =

    ; dying

    ; serious

    o oxymoron: ―blinding sight‖

    ; dying eyesight BUT perceptive insight

    ; see with clarity, perceive

    o Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay

    ; even w/loss of sight, life isn‘t over

    ; handicapped is not end of good life

    ; ―meteors‖ = metaphor for mind (wisdom, insight, brain)

    ; ―gay‖ = happy, enjoy the other 4 senses, enjoy what you do have, count blessings

    o RAGE b/c these dying men realize they could have/should have done more, appreciated what had ; Stanza #6: ndo 2 person POV

    ; speaks directly to his father

     3 independent clauses o

    o show some emotion:

    ; curse OR bless, scream & shout

    ; show some life, will to fight

    ; show some of your old fire

    o TONE = desperate, begging, pleading

; selfishness of those left behind

    o no more pain for the dying

    ; whether heaven or nothing, still an end to the pain & suffering

    o we = selfish b/c we don‘t want to be w/o them

    o we weep for ourselves

    o Toby Keith‘s ―I‘m crying for Me‖

INTRO:

    The first poem that Dylan Thomas ever published, when he was only eighteen, was an early version of "And Death Shall Have No Dominion." The cycle of life and death formed a constant underlying theme throughout his poetry since that earliest effort. In "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night," a moving plea to his dying father, death takes on a new and intensely personal meaning for Thomas.

    David John Thomas was an important influence throughout his son Dylan's life. A grammar school English teacher, he had a deep love for language and literature which he passed on to his son. In a 1933 letter to a friend, Dylan Thomas describes the library he shared with his father in their home. His father's section held the classics, while his included modern poetry. It had, according to Thomas, everything needed in a library. "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night" was in all likelihood composed in 1945 when D. J. Thomas was seriously ill; however, it was not published until after his death on December 16, 1952. Thomas sent the poem to a friend, Princess Caetani, in the spring of 1951, telling her that the "only person I can't show the little enclosed poem to is, of course, my father who doesn't know he's dying." After his father's death, the poem was included in the collection In Country Sleep. Ironically Dylan Thomas himself died just a year later. The poem

    discusses various ways to approach death in old age. It advocates affirming life up until the last breath, rather than learning to accept death quietly. < http://www.enotes.com/go-gentle >

    SUBJECT:

    Dylan Thomas‘ father had been a robust, militant man most of his life, and when in his eighties, he became blind and weak, his son was disturbed seeing his father become ―soft‖ or ―gentle.‖ In this poem, Thomas is rousing his father to continue being the fierce man he had previously been.

LITERARY DEVICES:

The form on the poem is a villanelle, with a rhyme scheme alternating ―night‖ and ―day.‖ ―Good night‖ is a

    metaphor and a pun. ―Dying of the light‖ is a metaphor. ―Old age should burn and rave‖ in line two is a

    combination of metonymy and personification. ―Close of day‖ is a metaphor. ―Burn‖ in that same line is used

    metaphorically, as is ―dark‖ in line four. In line five ―their words had forked no lightning‖ is metaphorical.

    Line eight ―Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay‖ employs personification and metaphor. Line

    ten ―Wild men who sang the sun in flight‖ is exaggeration and metaphor. Line 11 ―they grieved it on its way‖

    is also exaggeration and metaphor. Line 13 ―Grave‖ is a pun; ―blinding sight‖ is an oxymoron. Line 14 ―Blind

    eyes could blaze like meteors‖ is a simile. Line 17 ―Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray‖ is a

    paradox.

COMMENTARY:

    A villanelle is a French poetic form that originally served as a vehicle for pastoral, simple, and light verse. That Thomas would employ that form for the subject of death enhances the irony of beseeching a dying person to rage. No doubt the poet also chose this form because of the repetition of the important lines, ―Do not go gentle

    into that good night‖ and ―Rage, rage against the dying of the light‖ and because of the tight formal structure of the form. The subject matter which is the command to the father not to accept death so easily lends itself to the dichotomy of ―day‖ and ―night‖ which become somewhat symbolic for ―life‖ and ―death‖ in the poem.

    Each of the six stanzas has uniformity and a specific purpose:

    STANZA 1: The first line is a command, ―Do not go gentle into that good night.‖ Paraphrased, ―Don‘t give up easily.‖ The second line offers the speaker‘s belief that even when old and infirm, the man should stay energetic and complain if necessary as long as he does not give in to death easily. Then line three again is a command, ―Rage, rage against the dying of the light‖: Fight, complain, rail against the oncoming of death.

    STANZAS 2, 3, 4, AND 5 each try to persuade the father to ―rage against the dying of the light‖ by offering evidence of what wise, good, wild, and grave men have done. For example and to paraphrase stanza 2: Even though wise men know that they cannot keep death away forever and especially if they have not accomplished their goals in life, they don‘t accept death easily; they ―Do not go gentle . . . .‖ Similarly, in stanza 3, good men exclaim what might have been, their ―frail deed‖ might have shone like the sun reflecting off the waters of a ―green bay,‖ and they, therefore, ―Rage, rage‖ against the oncoming of death. Likewise, in stanza 4, wild men whose antics seemed to shine as brightly as the sun and who thought they were so optimistic, but later realized they spent much of their life in grief, still they ―Do not go gentle . . . .‖ And in stanza 5, grave men whose eyes are fading fast can still flash life‘s happiness, as they ―Rage, rage . . . . ‖

STANZA 6: The speaker addresses his father. Paraphrased, ―And so my father you are nearing death—yell at

    me, scream at me, cry out; to see you do that would be a blessing for me and I beg you to show me that militant man you once were: ―Do not go gentle . . . . ‖

    < http://poetry.suite101.com/article.cfm/dylan_thomas___do_not_go_gentle_ >

SONG:

    ; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=maISWZ8Tpsc

    o John Cale Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

    o Live, 1987; with the Helmonds Concertkoor and the Metropole Orkest; from `Words For The

    Dying-The Falkland Suite?; poem by Dylan Thomas, produced by Brian Eno (6 minutes)

    READINGS:

    ; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ygvTW-6dH8g

    o http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PyWiE1vNSxU

    o Dylan Thomas reading of Poem

    ; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mTv1Dmu5CYc&feature=related

    o Rodney Dangerfield from Back to School

    ; http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x4n3oa_dylan-thomas-death-shall-have-no-do_music

    o Dylan Thomas "Death Shall Have No Dominion"

FIGURES OF SPEECH Thomas uses a variety of figures of speech. Examples are the following:

    Alliteration: go, good (Stanza 1); though, their (Stanza 2); deeds, danced (Stanza 3) sang, sun (Stanza 4); learn, late (Stanza 4); see, sight (Stanza 5); blinding, blind, blaze (Stanza 5). Note: Go and gentle do not alliterate; they have different consonant sounds.

    Assonance: age, rave, day (Stanza 1); blaze, gay, rage (Stanza 5)

    Metaphor: good night compared to death (Stanza 1)

    Metaphor: Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight (Stanza 4). Implied comparison of achievement to catching the fire of the sun and to singing triumphantly

    Two Metaphors: words had forked no lightning (Stanza 2). (1) Words are compared to the cause of forked lightning. (See Notes and Comments for Stanza 2 for an explanation of the scientific term forked lightning.) (2) Lightning is compared to attention, notice--that is, the words had received no attention. Metaphor/Personification/Metonymy: old age . . . burn . . . rave. (Old age represents and is compared to a person)

    Metaphor/Personification: frail deeds might have danced

    Oxymoron: good night (Stanza 1). Good death is oxymoronic if one does not view death as good. Oxymoron: blinding sight (Stanza 5)

    Oxymoron: fierce tears (Stanza 6)

    Simile: blind eyes could blaze like meteors (Stanza 5)

    STUDY QUESTIONS

     * Dylan Thomas advises his readers to "rage against the dying of the light." If he were alive today, what would he say about assisted suicide and euthanasia?

     * Thomas, though a popular poet in his lifetime, managed money ineptly and thus was always in financial trouble. Moreover, he drank to excess. Research his life, then answer this question: Do you believe his drinking was a misguided attempt to "rage against the dying of the light"? Or was it a sign that he had despaired and decided to "go gentle," under the influence of alcohol, "to that good night"? (Thomas died in New York City after drinking to excess.)

     * Have you ever "forked lightning"? (See Notes and Comments, above.) If so, write an essay about your experience.

     * In 1854, Henry David Thoreau wrote that "the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation." Was Dylan Thomas writing about the same men as Thoreau when he wrote in Stanzas 2 to 5 that certain men "do not go gentle" because they had "forked no lightning" or because they "grieved" the sun on its way?

     * Write a villanelle that imitates the Thomas poem. Focus on a theme of your choice.

< http://www.cummingsstudyguides.net/Guides2/DylanThomas.html >

    Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

    1

    Do not go gentle into that good night,

    Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    Point of View: Thomas begins the poem with second-person point of view, telling his father and other readers to "fight till

    the last gasp," as Shakespeare said.

    go gentle: Go becomes a copulative verb, permitting the use of the adjective gentle rather than the adverb gently.

    close of day: end of life

    good night: two meanings: (1) death, (2) goodbye

    light: will to live; spirit, soul, mind; hope

2

    Though wise men at their end know dark is right,

    Because their words had forked no lightning they

    Do not go gentle into that good night.

    Point of View: Thomas shifts to third-person point of view. Here he is making a declarative statement when he says wise men "do not go gentle."

    Sentence Structure: Whereas the first stanza contains three main clauses, the second stanza contains two subordinate

    clauses, beginning with though and because, and a main clause, beginning with they.

    right: inevitable, unavoidable; natural

    forked no lightning: failed to command attention; failed to express a startling or revolutionary concept. In meteorology,

    "forked lightning" describes a lightning strike that divides into two or more branches resembling the roots of a plant--or,

    metaphorically, a fork. A common cause of the phenomenon is a second bolt that follows the path of the first bolt, then

    diverts away from it. Forked lightning is a spectacular sight; thus, words that "fork lighting" would be likewise spectacular. The poet Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889) used the phrase "forked lightning" in a poem entitled "The Shepherd's

    Brow." Click here for pictures of forked lightning.

    they do: example of enjambment

3

    Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright

    Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,

    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    Point of View: Thomas continues third-person point of view.

    Sentence Structure: The stanza is a single declarative sentence.

    Parallel Ideas: Good men has the force of wise men in the previous stanza. The message expressed in both stanzas is

    similar: Men facing death realize they could have done more and thus fight against the dying of the light.

    crying: weeping or shouting

    bright their: another instance of enjambment

4

    Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,

    And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,

    Do not go gentle into that good night.

    Point of View: Thomas continues third-person point of view.

    Sentence Structure: The stanza is a single declarative sentence.

    Parallel Ideas: Wild men has the force of good men in Stanza 3 and wise men in Stanza 2. The message is the same as in Stanzas 2 and 3.

    Wild . . . flight: These men had their moment in the sun, so to speak. But they lived most of their lives in shadows,

    grieving over daily travails.

    they grieved it: dismissed it; sent it. They did not seize the moment and capture what it offered them.

5

    Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight

    Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,

    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    Point of View: Thomas continues third-person point of view.

    Sentence Structure: The stanza is a single declarative sentence. Note that the word that is understood between the words

    sight and blind.

    Parallel Ideas: Grave men has the force of wild men in Stanza 4, good men in Stanza 3 and wise men in Stanza 2. The message is the same as in Stanzas 2 and 3.

    Grave men: Serious men. It seems that Thomas veers close to bathos here, for the words can be read as a prosaic pun. blinding sight: an oxymoron to convey the idea that dying men with failing eyes see with illuminating insight blaze . . . gay: A blind man can see in other ways and even "blaze" with ideas and zest for life

6

    And you, my father, there on the sad height,

    Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.

    Do not go gentle into that good night.

    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    curse, bless: In effect, "if you cursed me, you would be blessing me." Cursing his son would show that he still has fire,

    spirit, the will to fight.

    Poems of Dylan Thomas, Copyright ? 1952, 1953 by Dylan Thomas. Copyright ? 1937, 1945, 1955, 1962, 1966, 1967 by the

    Trustees for the Copyrights of Dylan Thomas. Copyright ? 1938, 1939, 1943, 1946, 1971 New Directions Publishing Corp.

Henry VI Part I : "

    JOAN LA PUCELLE:

    Why, no, I say, distrustful recreants! Fight till the last gasp; I will be your guard. (Act I, Scene II, Line 127)

    …………………

    Assign'd am I to be the English scourge. This night the siege assuredly I'll raise: Expect Saint Martin's summer, halcyon days, Since I have entered into these wars. Glory is like a circle in the water, Which never ceaseth to enlarge itself Till by broad spreading it disperse to nought.

    With Henry's death the English circle ends; Dispersed are the glories it included. Now am I like that proud insulting ship Which Caesar and his fortune bare at once.

    Toby Keith’s “Crying for Me (Wayman’s Song)”

    ―Sorry you missed me But I had to hear your voice I guess I‘ll get back with you as soon as I can

    Thank you and god bless‖ I‘m gonna miss that smile

     I‘m gonna miss you my friend

    Got the news on Friday mornin‘ Even though it hurts the way it ended up

    But a tear I couldn‘t find I‘d do it all again

    You showed me how I‘m supposed to live So play it sweet in heaven And now you showed me how to die ‗Cause that‘s right where you wanna be I was lost till Sunday mornin‘ I‘m not crying 'cause I feel so sorry for you I woke up to face my fear I‘m crying for me

    While I‘m writing you this goodbye song

    I found a tear So play your upside-down, left handed

     Backwards bass guitar I‘m gonna miss that smile And I‘ll see you on the other side

    I‘m gonna miss you my friend Superstar

    Even though it hurts the way it ended up

    I‘d do it all again I‘m gonna miss that smile

    So play it sweet in heaven I‘m gonna miss you my friend

    ‗Cause that‘s right where you wanna be Even though it hurts the way it ended up

    I‘m not crying 'cause I feel so sorry for you I‘d do it all again

    I‘m crying for me So play it sweet in heaven

     ‗Cause that‘s right where you wanna be I got up and dialed your number I‘m not crying 'cause I feel so sorry for you And your voice came on the line I‘m crying for me

    That old familiar message

    I heard a thousand times it just said I‘m still crying

    Sorry that I missed you I‘m crying for me

    Leave a message and god bless I‘m still crying

    I know you think I‘m crazy

    Dangerous Minds’ “Dylan-Dylan Contest”

    Challenge: To find a Dylan Thomas poem & a Bob Dylan song alike in theme.

Thomas’ “Do not Go Gentle into That Good Night” Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man”

    Do not go gentle into that good night, Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me,

     Old age should burn and rave at close of day; I’m not sleepy and there is no place I’m going to.

     Rage, rage against the dying of the light. Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me,

     In the jingle jangle morning I’ll come followin’ you.

     Though wise men at their end know dark is right,

     Because their words had forked no lightning they Though I know that evenin‘s empire has returned into

     Do not go gentle into that good night. sand,

     Vanished from my hand,

     Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright Left me blindly here to stand but still not sleeping.

     Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay, My weariness amazes me, I‘m branded on my feet,

     Rage, rage against the dying of the light. I have no one to meet

     And the ancient empty street‘s too dead for dreaming.

     Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,

     And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way, Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me,

     Do not go gentle into that good night. I’m not sleepy and there is no place I’m going to.

     Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me,

     Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight In the jingle jangle morning I’ll come followin’ you.

     Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,

     Rage, rage against the dying of the light. Take me on a trip upon your magic swirlin‘ ship,

     My senses have been stripped, my hands can‘t feel to

     And you, my father, there on the sad height, grip,

     Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray. My toes too numb to step, wait only for my boot heels

     Do not go gentle into that good night. To be wanderin‘.

     Rage, rage against the dying of the light. I‘m ready to go anywhere, I‘m ready for to fade

     Into my own parade, cast your dancing spell my way,

     I promise to go under it.

     (chorus)

     Though you might hear laughin‘, spinnin‘, swingin‘

    madly across the sun,

     It‘s not aimed at anyone, it‘s just escapin‘ on the run

     And but for the sky there are no fences facin‘.

     And if you hear vague traces of skippin‘ reels of

    rhyme

     To your tambourine in time, it‘s just a ragged clown

    behind,

     I wouldn‘t pay it any mind, it‘s just a shadow you‘re

     Seein‘ that he‘s chasing.

     (chorus)

     Then take me disappearin‘ through the smoke rings of

    my mind,

     Down the foggy ruins of time, far past the frozen

    leaves,

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