Death in Do not go gentle into that good night and Death Be Not Proud
The poems "Do not go gentle into that good night" and "Death Be Not Proud" both deal with the subject of death. These poems seem to have contradictory messages about death, yet at the same time have similar attitudes toward it. "Death Be Not Proud" talks about how death really has no power over people, while "Do not go gentle into that good night" says that it is part of human nature to fight against death.
Both "Do not go gentle into that good night" and "Death Be Not Proud" see death as an opponent; however, one sees it as an adversary that is already defeated while the other sees it as an enemy that must be defeated. In "Death Be Not Proud" Donne says "those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow / Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me"(lines 3-4). This passage shows Donne's belief that people will always overcome death. In Thomas' poem, he writes "Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright / Their frail deeds might have danced in the green bay, / Rage, rage against the dying of the light" (7-9). Even the "good men" are in the end defeated by death according to Thomas.
The tone of both of these poems is one of resentment towards death, although in dissimilar ways. In "Death Be Not Proud" Donne hates death because it thinks it has power over humans and in his opinion just the opposite is true. Donne says that death is a "slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men." (9). He thinks death has no reason to be proud because he relies on these things for its power, so really people have power over death. Thomas feels almost the opposite, though. He sees death as having power over people, and is saying that people do not want to give in to death. To get his point across he repeats the lines "Do not go gentle into that good night" and "Rage, rage against the dying of the light" four times each though the course of the poem. Even though they have different views of death they share the theme of defiance of death.
Both "Death Be Not Proud" and "Do not go gentle into that good night" do not necessarily see death as a negative thing. In looking at the title "Do not go gentle into that good night" one notices that Thomas calls the night, presumably a metaphor for death, good. He also says "wise men at their end know dark is right" (4). This would suggest that he believes that death is a necessary occurrence. If Thomas sees death as necessary,...