Analysis of Dylan Thomas’ Poems

This is an analysis of Dylan Thomas’ Poems
“Fern Hill” and “Do Not Go Gentle into that Good
Night.” Overview of “Fern Hill”
Winter is sometimes associated with death and the poem “Fern Hill” takes place in
the fall, which is just before winter. This reminds us of the theme of impending
death. Shakespeare believed that each day
we live is one step closer to death, which is also the message of “Fern Hill.” Summary/Analysis of “Fern Hill”
The first stanza of “Fern Hill” describes the speaker playing as a child who is green
(a color often associated with youth”) and unaware of the
passage of time. It is fall, which forecasts eventual
death (or the winter of life). There is also the personification of time
as a man. In the second
stanza, there are beautiful images of nature and unawareness of the passage of time as
gold (associated with aging) being juxtaposed with
green, symbolizing youth. The third stanza also
foreshadows death as the child rides through life as he ages. The lightening or life will eventually
disappear or life will go out. We see the passage of time throughout this
stanza as well. In the
fourth stanza he mentions Adam and Eve, which, of course foreshadows death. The passage of
time continues. In the fifth stanza the sun is being born
over and over representing the passage of time and cycles of life. The boy is carefree and unaware of his own
eventual death. The images
of green and gold shows that the young replace the old. “Out of grace” is another reference
to Adam and Eve and the fall of humanity, which led to all of us having to die. The moon rising
instead of the sun shows the passage of time as the boy ages like the day becoming closer
to night or death. The lines “Time held me green and dying/
Though I sang in my chains like the sea” are very famous lines that the boy (and eventual
man) was dying each day he lived his life but was
blissfully unaware as he was busy living his life. He sings like the sea, which is timeless,
but he is not, as all humans are mortal. The first six lines of “Fern Hill” praise
life at Fern Hill as a child, and the last six lines lament life because
the speaker is older now and realizes that throughout his
childhood he was actually dying but was blissfully unaware of his mortality. The message of this
poem is very ironic. It is ironic that we are unaware of our mortality
and take it for granted until we are older and close to death and then we
become more aware of our mortality and the shortness of life when it is too late to take
advantage of every moment of life. Summary of “Do Not Go Gentle into that Good
Night” Dylan Thomas writes this poem to his father
as his elderly, now blind father is dying. In the first
stanza, he tells his father that he should fight against death. In the second stanza, he says wise
men fight against death since they haven’t “forked lightening” or made a significant
contribution to the world. In the third stanza, he says that good men
fight because they could do more good. In the fourth stanza, he says wild men fight
against death because they want to enjoy every moment of what life they have left. In the fifth stanza, he says grave men or
elderly men fight death because as they become blind (as his
father did late in life), they become like prophets
seeing more than most people. In the sixth stanza, he tells his father not
to give up and to fight until the last possible moment of life. Analysis and Form of “Do Not Go Gentle into
that Good Night” “Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night”
is a villanelle, which is a nineteen-line poem with two
rhymes throughout, consisting of five tercets (a set or group of three lines of verse rhyming
together or connected by rhyme with an adjacent tercet) and a quatrain (four line stanza),
with the first and third lines of the opening tercet
recurring alternately at the end of the other tercets
and with both repeated at the close of the concluding quatrain. The villanelle form is an
appropriate form for this poem since he is writing this in memorial of his dying father
because it is a very difficult form of poetry, and he wants
to make the most of his father’s life. His father was
a poet and was elderly when Dylan Thomas wrote the poem. His father is represented by the
“grave” or elderly men in the poem.

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