Both “Do Not Go Gentle Into that Good Night” by Dylan Thomas and “Autobiography in Late Middle Age” by Zulfikar Ghose discuss getting older. The difference is Dylan Thomas is writing the poem to his dying father while Zulfikar Ghose writes to anonymous young people. The tone of Thomas’s work is much darker than the tone of Ghose’s work. Thomas treats growing older and death as a tragedy while Ghose celebrates life. Ghose’s work has a comedic tone. The message of both poems is the same: Fight against old age and death.
Thomas seems to be angry at death and encourages others to be angry at death too. This is evident from the repeated use of the phrase “Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” The use of the word rage also seems to be a call to fight against old age and death.
In “Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night”, Thomas states that no matter what brilliant words a man has spoken, those words will do nothing against the darkness of death. Any deed that a man has done is “frail” (8) when death comes to call. Dylan is saying that no matter what good deeds or work we have accomplished, we will still face the “dying of the light.” Perhaps Dylan is even saying that after we die, eventually, no one will remember us or what we did and each of us will fade into the darkness of anonymity.
In the last verse, Thomas seems to be begging his father for some last words before he dies regardless of whether the words are a blessing or a curse. He begs his father not to die but to fight against death.
In contrast, right from the beginning of Ghose’s poem, “Autobiography in Late Middle Age”, readers can see that he does not take old age too seriously. The first stanza talks about how he might be losing hair on his head but he has plenty hair coming out of his ears and nostrils.
Ghose is aware that younger people see him as an older man and try to give him extra time walking across the street and understand any seemingly bizarre habits he might have. He is also aware that younger people promise themselves they won’t get old or get eccentric as they get older. Ghose writes that these people “know nothing!” (18) Ghose states that they know nothing because Ghose can still do many of the things young people do; they just don’t see him do it.
At this point in the poem, Ghose states that he can still run a “power mower” (19) and speak intelligently on topics. In addition, he likes to be rebellious and act like a young person by going out into the desert and singing loudly along with his stereo and speeding down the highway at one hundred twenty miles per hour. We have all seen teenagers going down the highway singing along with the stereo and speeding. Ghose is teaching us that people can still enjoy life as they get older. Older people can still break the rules. As people get older, they can still have fun.
The contrast between Thomas’s poem and Ghose’s poem says much about their outlook on life. Thomas’s outlook seems to be that no matter what people do, none of it matters because it will all be gone when they die. Ghose’s outlook seems to say have fun, enjoy life, and rebel a little. Both poems have the theme of rebellion in them but the rebellion is illustrated in two very different ways. Thomas’s idea of rebellion is a dark struggle against death while Ghose’s idea of rebellion is to do the unexpected while alive and enjoy doing the unexpected. The similarity of the two poems is that they both advise rebellion against old age and death.
Russell, Tony. et al. “MLA Formatting Quotations.” Owl Purdue Online Writing Lab. Owl
Purdue, 2 November 2011. Web. 8 December 2011.