Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night vs. Death Be Not Proud

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night by Dylan Thomas

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


And you, my father, there on that 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.

Death Be Not Proud by John Donne

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee

Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;

For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow

Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.

From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,

Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,

And soonest our best men with thee do go,

Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery.

Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,

And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,

And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well

And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then?

One short sleep past, we wake eternally

And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.




Rather than an analysis of one poem, this entry will be a comparison between two related poems. Evidently, the connection between the two poems listed above is the topic of death, however each poet has a different perspective on this issue that are displayed in their respective poems. Their different views will be addressed and discussed further in this post. I discovered both of these poems from a list provided by my English teacher, and I decided to analyze these poems as they are widely recognized.

To summarize Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, I believe Thomas was persuading the audience to not sucuumb to death, used interchangeably with darkness, and one must ‘burn and rave’ against it. The majority of the poem was addressed towards the general audience– it is only in the last stanza of this piece that he addresses his own father, when we finally understand that Thomas composed this piece mainly for personal reasons. He suggests that men cannot peacefully pass away if “Their words had forked no lightning” and “Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay”. Simply, Thomas believes that unless man has made a difference to the world, they have not fulfilled the meaning behind their existence and must “rage against the dying of the light” to do so.

On the other hand, Donne’s ‘Death Be Not Proud’ is a fourteen-line sonnet with a modified Petrarchan rhyme scheme that possesses a condescending perspective on Death, claiming it is worthless, weak and a fraud. Contrary to Thomas’s view of death, Donne sees death as nothing more than sleeping or resting, something that brings pleasure and is finite. He tries to convince the reader of the powerlessness of Death, that it is weak and dependent upon factors such as Fate or Chance, and that drugs can provide just as pleasurable of rest as Death can. Personification and apostrophe are used consistently throughout the piece– Death, along with other intangible objects, are give human-like characteristics and are addressed directly as if they were living objects. Donne also utilizes numerous contradictory statements in this piece, for example, Line 4: ‘Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me’ contradicts Line 14 ‘And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die’.

The contrasting viewpoints of the two poems are evident– while Thomas believes that death is something that one should fight against, Donne believes that Death provides nothing more than pleasure for the human soul. Thomas portrays death as strong and difficult to fight against, Donne persuades the reader that Death is weak and wrongfully proud. Thomas sees death as a state of being while Death is a live thing according to Donne. Neither opinion on death is wholly correct or incorrect– even today, we have yet to find an accurate description of death. There have been many philosophies on death– afterlife, eternal rest, Heaven and Hell etc.– and these two poems merely portray two different theories on the same topic. I don’t have any personal connection with either of these poems as I have yet to encounter death in my lifetime, but I have learned how horrid death is since Thomas was inspired to compose such a powerful poem because of his father’s death. In conclusion, although ‘Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night’ and ‘Death Be Not Proud’ may seem like two similar poems at first due to a mutual theme, each poet’s view and portrayal of the topic contrast greatly with each other and it is extremely discernible through an analysis of both pieces.

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