Comparing Do not go gentle into that good night and When I consider how my light is spent

Comparing Do not go gentle into that good night and When I consider how my light is spent

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Comparing Dylan Thomas's poem Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night and John Milton's poem When I consider How My Light Is Spent


Dylan Thomas's poem "Do not go gentle into that good night" and John Milton's poem "When I consider how my light is spent" were written during times of trouble in their respective poet's life. Thomas was faced with losing his father to death; Milton was dealing with becoming completely blind at the age of forty-three. As each poet struggles to deal with the crisis occurring in his life, he makes a statement about the relationship between mankind and God, the reasons that God gives and then takes away certain gifts, and the proper way to live life. Thomas and Milton ended up with contrasting answers to these fundamental questions about life.

The poets' use of personal events in their lives as a topic and their use of the personal pronouns "I" and "my" resolve possible questions of voice in both poems. Because Thomas refers directly to "my father" (line 6) and Milton opens his poem with the line "When I consider how my light is spent" (1), the reader can, with some basic knowledge of the history of each poem, reasonably assume that the poet and the speaker are interchangeable. Both Thomas and Milton chose to share their private thoughts on intensely personal matters with the world through their poems. By drawing from their own experiences, the poets give these works a tone that resonates with the reader because he/she can connect the words of the poem with his/her own life.

Thomas and Milton present contrasting views of the relationship between mankind and God or the inevitable events of life. Thomas sees humans as having some degree of control; his father may not be able to live forever, bu...


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...erent men at very different points in history, but both poets were struggling with difficult situations and trying to decide how they should react. Although their final conclusions are completely opposite , the raw emotion behind each poem resonates with the reader whether the poem is 45 or 345 years old. The human struggle to understand life, regret, and why God gives and withholds certain gifts will continue as long as humanity exists; each person who considers these questions will come to his/her own personal conclusions just as Thomas and Milton did.

Works Cited:

Milton, John. "When I Consider How My Light Is Spent." The Longman Anthology of British Literature: Compact Edition. Ed. David Damrosch. New York: Longman, 2000.

Thomas, Dylan. “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night.” Literature and Ourselves. Addison-Wesley Educational Publishers, 1997.

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