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Literary Devices Used in ''Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night''

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The poem “Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night” (1951) is one of the best known works by Welsh poet Dylan Thomas. This verse is literally classified as villanelle and complies with the demands of French poem-writing stemming from the 19th century. Having become an integral element of British and American popular culture, this piece of literature presents interest in terms of stylistic content. In other words, the poem by Thomas possesses a range of peculiar literary devices which complete its genuine beauty and depth.

Prior to analyzing the role of literary devices in the poem, it is essential to get a wider idea about this work. As there is a direct appeal to the poet’s father, one may assume that the lyric of Thomas is deeply intimate. At the same time, the creator’s message remains very general and addressing every human being. The poem is full of gloomy atmosphere of the inevitable, of death. According to a long tradition in literature, death is represented by night, the time of darkness and silence. And the author encourages all the men, no matter what life they lead, not to give up to death so easily. This symbolism is reflected through a system of literary devices used throughout the poem.

The initial understanding of uniqueness of the verse is revealed through its metrical composition already. “Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night” includes six stanzas, five of which contain three lines and the last one contains four. Rhyme in the poem can be presented by ABA scheme for the five stanzas, and the sixth one maintains an addition of A at the end, thus, has an ABAA structure. Repetition is resorted to in the last lines of every stanza making the verse similar to a song. The repeated lines alternate and create a very powerful part of the poem, emphasizing the ideas and feelings reflected in them. The image of dying is rather palpable in this refrain. However, it is encouraged to take death in a dignified, but not obedient way. But it is not only in the refrain where repetition is used. The poet widely resorts to a syntactic kind of repetition, parallel constructions, giving “men” a different epithet in every stanza: in the poem they appear as “wise”, “good”, “wild” and “grave”. Such a gradual denomination definitely bears a certain symbolic meaning for the verse showing how different people may be.

Metaphors are ones of the most widely used literary devices in the poem. Thomas made the “old age burn and rave”, his light possesses the features of an animate creature, as its “dying” is mentioned. According to the author, words have a potential power to “fork lightning”, deeds may dance and “fierce tears” are summoned to “curse and bless”. Thus, metaphoric content of the poem is rather extensive.

Apart from the vivid imagery and symbolism conveyed by the bright metaphors one cannot ignore the presence of other literary devices in the poem, for instance, figurative comparison “blind eyes could blaze like meteors”. One should bear in mind that practically all the stylistic devices bear some imagery. That is why their use in the works of fiction is completely justifiable. It also concerns such device as comparison.

Dylan Thomas plays with contrast in his poem. “Night” not only rhymes with “light”, but also adds a certain contradiction to the verse. The same refers to a paradoxical combination “blinding sight”. Addressing his father, the poet encourages both to curse and bless him. Thus, usage of oxymorons and contradictions make the poem “Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night” even more expressive and add to the general complicated character of its poetic structure.

In order to understand poetry better, it is not always enough just to delimit the symbolic layer of a certain verse. Literary devices might also be helpful for analysis. A range of them is used in the poem “Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night”. Bright imagery is created in the verse with the help of peculiar rhyme structure, repetition, contradictions and various lexical devices.

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