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With particular attention to the use of metaphor,

how could it be argued that Do Not Go Gentle Into


That Good Night should be included in the literary
canon?
Traditionally, texts within the literary canon are considered to be so due to
diferent factors such as complexity, value and language. Do Not Go
Gentle nto That Good Night! by Dylan Thomas may be considered to be a
text worthy of canonic status. The use of extended metaphor contributes
greatly to this conclusion, especially as the sub"ect of the metaphor is
highly universal and important.
The poem ta#es the form of a villanelle, a medieval structure originating in
$rench poetry. This could be seen as complex, as conforming to such a
strict structure would be technically challenging% there are only two
rhymes, & and ', each line must be in iambic pentameter, and certain
lines and phrases should be repeated periodically throughout the poem.
The extended metaphor representing the emotional sub"ect matter of
death is reinforced through the repetitive nature of the structure, with
words associated with negativity, such as death! and dar#!, being
repeated within the repeated lines emphasising the metaphor. Thomas!
message of (ghting against death is also reinforced through this constant
repetition, allowing the reader to draw more of a de(nitive conclusion as
to what the poet is attempting to convey. The metaphor of death is
highlighted with the phrase dying of the light!. Not only does this realise
the natural human aversion to dar#ness, it also brings to attention the
metaphor of light representing life and goodness. That good night!
arouses the implication of death appearing good, almost inviting% this
could be seen as a dead! metaphor, in a way, as throughout history death
has been viewed as the end of sufering.
)ithin the poem, the message realised is that one should not embrace
death% rather it is a force to be denied. This theme of death would be
instrumental in giving the poem canonic status due to its universal nature.
Death is also considered to be serious! and somewhat philosophical!, as
the addressing of such is the addressing of the un#nown% that which is
beyond full human comprehension. t is possible to draw complexity from
this topic, as death is emphasised through the strong, "uxtaposing light
and dar# imagery. The sun!, lightening! and meteors!, each one evo#ing
connotations with the forces of light and energy, strongly oppose the
almost monotonous repetition of night! and dying of the light! as
representations of death, through both the variety of positive language
and strength of this same imagery. *ocially, light is associated with
heaven and dar# with hell, which helps towards the moral of the poem
because of this prominent light verses dar#! essence of the poem, along
with the strength of the light against the plain, and therefore wea#er,
portrayal of dar#ness. 'urn! and rave! each give pronounced energy to
this battle against death, their monosyllabic nature, and therefore rapid
delivery, adding to this efect. Not only do these seem energetic, but they
give a commanding sense to the poem. The imperative do not! is
repeated four times within the poem, (ve if the title is included. +age,
rage! again has a commanding feel, with the repetition echoing the strict
con(nes of the villanelle structure as well as emphasising the order!
delivered by the spea#er.
Thomas mentions the sad height! of his father!s position. This could be
literally symbolic of a raised sic# bed, metaphorically distancing him from
those he holds close, towards heaven ,relating to the previous point about
heaven-. .owever, it may also be viewed that this sad height! relates
more to the emotion felt towards the nearing death. n this case, height!
would relate to priority% generally, ill family members are those of
concern, therefore whilst Thomas! father is of priority, it is upsetting that
he is so. Not only does this metaphor, whichever image it is seen as to be
representative of, continue with the extended metaphor of death, but
complexity and applicability of message are addressed. Thomas has
written of a personal image, however, due to death being common and
experienced second hand by many, it is possible for the reader to relate to
the sad height! of Thomas! father, thus adding "usti(cation to the poem
being included in the literary canon.
The message is also addressed through the use of four types of men% the
good!, wise!, wild! and grave!. /ach of these men, generalisations of the
population, have diferent views on how death should be met. The wild
men! caught and sang the sun in 0ight! have done a lot within their lives,
the wise! realised that their words...for#ed no lightening! and so on, and
as a result each on realises too late that death has come. )ithin each of
these short metaphors are more eforts to (ght the dying of the light!.
The wise! intend for their words to for#...lightening!, or ignite a spar# of
inspiration within others. &s previously mention, lightening! is an example
ferociously energetic language% in the sense of metaphor, it "uxtaposes
dar#ness, and within canonical writing it proves the complex nature of the
language used. $urthermore, the use of multiple types of people allows for
Thomas to give an insight to the natural grieving processes underta#en by
humans upon the death of others, or before one!s own death, which
difers to the views upon how death should be met.
1etaphor is a great contributor to Do Not Go Gentle nto That Good
Night!s inclusion within the literary canon. The extended metaphor of
re"ecting and (ghting death, as opposed to the traditional view of
embracing it as a release, is a prominent feature in the poem due to the
repetitive nature of the villanelle. The villanelle also conveys the needed
complexity to de(ne a poem as being within the canon, because abiding
to such a strict form is technically challenging. &s a sub"ect matter, death
is also highly complex and, in this case, universal, thus furthering the
plausibility of de(ning the poem as being in the literary canon. &n
aesthetically pleasing piece, Thomas! poem draws together many aspects
shown in other pieces of the canon, legitimising Do Not Go Gentle nto
That Good Night! as a piece of poetic literary canon.

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