Dylan Marlais Thomas


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Dylan Marlais Thomas is considered one of the greatest modern poets. Like many other writers and poets, Thomas lived a life of loss, poverty, and adventure. His life began October 27, 1914 in Swansea, Wales. His father David John Thomas was an English Literature teacher at the Swansea Grammar School and at Dylan’s birth he was determined for his son to become the poet that he had failed to be(Fitzgibbon 25). Despite having very little education, Thomas began writing poems at the very young age of nine. At age sixteen Thomas left school and began working at the South Wales Daily Post, sometimes writing scornful reviews of local plays, concerts, and writers; which were often edited to keep from offending the subjects he scrutinized. In 1937, after going on many drinking binges and living together for over a year, Thomas married Caitlin MacNamara, with whom he later had three children. In April of 1937, Thomas began to read poetry for BBC Wales. Radio broadcasting became a big role in his career development. Thomas is credited for many publications, including his most famous, “ Do Not Go Gentle into That Goodnight” and “ Under Milk Wood”. Tragically, during his fourth visit to the United States, Dylan Thomas fell into a coma, due to an overdose of Tequila and Morphine shots. On November 9, 1953, he died at St.Vincent’s Hospital while a nurse was bathing him; he was thirty-nine(Neurotic Poets 6). Thomas has been described as, “ humble, shy, confused, and insecure on the inside, but outwardly neglectful, selfish, and egotistical—yet always, and extremely, charming” ( Neurotic Poets ).


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Though Thomas led an interesting life; even more interesting is his style of writing. Even though Thomas’ works are puzzles to most people, Thomas believed “ what the words stood for, symbolised, or meant was of very secondary importance—what mattered was the very sound of them”( Neurotic Poets 1). Thomas believed that the best poetry was music to the ears. Thomas used life experiences and Biblical passages to create the musical sounds in his poetry.


One of Thomas’ most famous poems is “ Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night”. Thomas had a very close relationship with his father David John Thomas. On December 16, 1952, his ailing father died while holding his hand( Neurotic Poets 5). This poem is very much about the struggle between Thomas’ father and death. The poem reads:


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 lightening 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 blaze like meteors and be gay,


Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


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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.(Grimes)


Thomas’ father had been a militant man most of his life, and when became blind and weak from illness, his son was disturbed seeing his father become “soft” or” gentle.” In the poem, Thomas is moving his father to go back to being the fierce man he had previously been ( Grimes 1). The “ sad height” is a time when life is ending and death can be seen as inevitable. Thomas rages his father to rage against the old and dying life; at the same time the “sad height” is the only moment the only moment that he can ask his father to bless him(Westphal1). Thomas also used an abundance of biblical language in his poetry.


We can also look at “ Do Not GoGentle into That Good Night” for Thomas’ use of biblical language. Thomas often tuned to the