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The Best of Men

Symbol Analysis

"Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night" begins with an address to an unknown listener and ends by revealing that this listener is the speaker's father. In between these direct addresses, however, the speaker describes the valiant and praiseworthy behavior of many different kinds of exemplary men – "wise men," "good men," "wild men," and "grave men." The speaker hopes that his father will be all these things.

  • Lines 7-15: The poem uses parallelism as the actions of the different types of men are listed. Each of these three stanzas begins by listing the type of men in question, then describing something amazing that that group of men have done. The speaker ends each by reminding the reader that these men won't let themselves die without a struggle.
  • Line 17: The speaker creates an oxymoron by asking his father to "Curse" but also to "bless" him. The juxtaposition of these two words together, separated but also joined by a comma, implies that they can be thought of as opposites, but also as, in some strange way, the same thing. This line is also one of the only soft-sounding lines in the poem, due to the sibilance, or repeated s sounds, throughout – in the words "Curse" and "bless," but also, less obviously, in "fierce" and "tears." This makes the line sound extremely different, softer and gentler than the rest of the poem. Hmm, maybe the father is going to pass away in a "gentle" manner.

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