The wind, waves, and sounds heard along the beach, the physical aspects of the setting, represent the emotional battle of people losing their faith. The poet’s description of a land of dreams having, “neither joy, nor love, nor light, nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain-” (Arnold, 1138) reflects the emptiness after one looses his faith. In Dylan Thomas’ “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” the usage of words and metaphors give away the poems underlying theme of darkness and death. One of the images Thomas uses is that of the wise old man.
“Though wise men at their end know dark is right,/ Because their words forked no lighting they/ Do not go gentle into that good night” (Thomas, 1156). This passage speaks of wise men that fail. The archetypal definition of the wise man is one who possesses the qualities of insight, wisdom, cleverness, a spiritual principle. But aside from the fact that these men are wise, their words still mean nothing. This passage gives the reader an unmistakable image of darkness in the lives of even those who are wise. A second image that portrays this theme is the fourth stanza of the poem.
“Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight, / And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,/ Do not go gentle into that good night” (Thomas, 1156). Here the image of the sun represents the passing of life. And the men, who were too late in catching the sun and grieved it on its way, are giving us the image that the sun is setting. It could also be interpreted as the sun for that day is dying. Here again we have a passage that is giving us a clear image of darkness and also, Thomas referring to death.
The strongest image of darkness and death is shown in the last stanza of the poem. The final stanza combines the last lines from the odd and even-numbered stanzas for an additional line to strengthen the speaker’s thoughts. This portrays the ongoing war between life and death. The old man went back and forth between life and death as the stanzas’ last lines switched back and forth. In the end, the two last lines join together as the old man and his son accept that death is a part of life. “Do not go gentle into that good night.
/ Rage, rage against the dying of the light” (Thomas, 1156). The death of the light here shows us blackness: the ultimate darkness. In Sylvia Plath’s “Mirror”, the poet uses personification to have the mirror describe its relationship with the woman, her obsession with her looks, and her fear of aging. The mirror gains a personality in the two stanzas of the poem. It is portrayed as a four-cornered little god. The God sees all, so the mirror, as a little god, sees all of our flaws. Her choice of words brings a lot of different pictures into mind.
Through the use of word, such as “silver” and “exact” the mirror appears to be square and harsh rather than oval and loving. The reader learns that the mirror in hanged on the wall and “is pink, with speckles” (Plath, 524), which brings the image of a wall in the bathroom. In the second stanza “a women bends over the [lake]”(Plath, 524). Here, the image of the water in the sink under the bathroom’s mirror comes to mind and the liars, “candles or the moon” (Plath, 524) actually seems to be the soft lighting that is found in most bathrooms.
Through the line “Drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman” (Plath, 524) the poet depicts the passing of time, a women coming into full maturity. It seems as if the young woman has been slowly ‘swallowed up’ by the mirror throughout the years. It also shows that the women did not have any choice over it; she has become a slave to the mirror, as she becomes increasingly restless at the way in which it reflects her gradual aging. The last line of the second stanza compares the women to a “terrible fish” (Plath, 524).
The “terrible fish” seems to be the women trying to wash away her age, by washing the face in a sink filled with water. When she brings the face back up from in the water she sees herself in the mirror. She is still old and now she is wet and water is dripping from her face. Her face looks now like a wrinkled fish out of water. The picture of a “terrible fish” definitely enhances the understanding of poet’s emotions. It becomes obvious that the poet is simply disquasted with her appearance. The usage of images in poetry is very powerful and intriguing.
Poets choose the images that best suit the picture that they want to portray. However, they do not have the power of controlling the reader’s interpretation of their work. Everybody might have different association with a specific image and this is what makes poetry so wonderful. Arnold expresses his feeling through the usage of sight and hearing; Dylan Thomas chose various types of metaphors to present his rage against death, while Sylvia Plath expressed her emotions through the personification.
Through the use of images, all three poets uttered what they desired very well. Without imagery their work would not be as effective. The pictures that the reader is presented with make the poetry very visual and sensual. All this enhances the readers understanding of the poems and definitely makes it more pleasurable as well. Works Cited Page Arnold, Matthew. “Do not go Gently into that Good Night. ” Exploring Literature (2004) Plath, Sylvia. “Mirror. ” Exploring Literature (2004) Thomas, Dylan. “Dover Beach. ” Exploring Literature (2004)