What goes through your mind when you read a poem? What is the message that the author implements into their writing? Well, the two prominent poems that need further explanations towards these questions are “Do not go gentle into that good night” by Dylan Thomas and “Love is not all” by Edna St. Vincent Millay. The positions of both authors are very different within their poems from each other though they both spread a good moral towards the reader. In “Do not go gentle into that good night”, Dylan Thomas’ stance is to fight against death when it comes at your doorstep.
In “Love is not all”, Edna St. Vincent Millay’s stance is to realize that love is not always happy thoughts, but you should still remember those you’ve loved in the past. Knowing the stances of each poem, I believe that “Do not go gentle into that good night” by Dylan Thomas is more powerful in conveying the theme in his poem mainly because of his use of poetic devices and its straightforward message. “Love is not all” by Edna St. Vincent Millay, is a sonnet consisting of 1 stance and 14 lines in total.
The poetic devices that the sonnet possesses in order to convey its theme are metaphors and imagery. The first device that Millay uses is metaphors where Millay compares love to everything that we believe that aren’t true about love. Such examples are included in the first and second line of the sonnet where, “it is not meat nor drink. Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain” (Millay, 1931). These examples are established in the sonnet in order for Millay to inform the reader that love is not all the things that you think it is, but instead the opposite.
These examples start from the first line all the way to line seven where Millay then mainly puts focus on the second device, imagery. Even though there is imagery used throughout the entire sonnet, the last couple of lines is when this device is mostly put to effect towards what love does to the significant other. These examples are revealed to the audience in the tenth and eleventh line of the sonnet where love feels like being, “pinned down by pain and moaning for release or nagged by want past resolution’s power” (Millay, 1931).
These lines are established to show that love can lead to pain and agony towards the lover in question or love can come off as an annoyance. The misconception of love is shown throughout the entire sonnet until the message shifts in the last three lines. The sonnet changes its message from not believing that love is all happy things towards not forgetting the memories of past loved ones that you will cherish in your life.
Though these lines are included, it still does not help convey its converted message of cherishing those moments at the last second where Millay throughout most of the sonnet describes and implements misconception of love towards the reader. The question that still remains is, how does Thomas convey his message in his poem that Millay does not establish in her sonnet? “Do not go gentle into that good night” by Dylan Thomas, is a villanelle consisting of 6 stances and 19 lines in total. The poetic devices that the villanelle possesses in order to convey its theme are repetition and imagery.
The first device that Thomas uses is repetition where the villanelle surrounds itself around two lines in the poem that implements his message. These lines are “Do not go gentle into that good night” and “Rage, rage against the dying of the light” (Thomas, 1952). These two lines alone spreads the theme of death with night alluding to death and the dying of light which symbolizes the departure of life to death. Thomas also incorporates these lines in such a persistent tone in order to enforce his message of fighting death and to not give up easily when death arrives.
The second poetic device that Thomas uses is imagery where that’s a moment when the narrators intersect with imagery being the most powerful device within their respected poems. Imagery in Thomas’ work implements the message of not giving up when your life is about to end when the villanelle describes different types of people. For example in the third stanza, he centers his message towards good men who cry at how bright their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay (Thomas, 1952).
This summary of the third stanza followed by the second repeated line, tells the reader that good men should not cry about their non-important deeds and dream of a better life. They should instead rage. They should fight against death and do something about it, not just sit there and let death take them from this earth. With this type of imagery intact within this villanelle, it provokes the theme and lifestyle towards the reader after reading and analyzing the villanelle instead of Millay’s sonnet which confuses the reader towards the end with her message of love.
The stance of Thomas in his poem is to always fight against death. Thomas conveys his theme of death by using repetition, and imagery. The stance of Millay in her poem is to not think good thoughts about love, but you must always remember the memories. She conveys her theme of love by incorporating metaphors and imagery. Thomas conveys his message better than Millay because of his use of imagery that provokes a feeling of rebellion towards death instead of Millay who uses imagery to describe a weak and confusing part of her message.