Title: Death in Poetry: A.E. Housman’s “To an Athlete Dying Young” and Dylan Thomas’ “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night”
"To An Athlete Dying Young" is a poem in A.E. Housman's A Shropshire Lad (1896). It is perhaps one of the most well-known poems pertaining to early death; in this case, that of a young man at the height of his physical glory. Published in the period between the two Boer Wars, the poem gained even more popularity during World War I, as many saw it as a poignant lament for the lost generation of so many bright, young men, cut down in their prime.
"Do not go Gentle into that Good Night," a villanelle composed in 1951, is considered to be among the finest works by Welsh poet Dylan Thomas (1914–1953). Originally published in the journal Botteghe Oscure in 1952, it also appeared as part of the collection In Country Sleep. Written for his dying father, it is one of Thomas's most-quoted works. "Do not go gentle into that good night," is also the poem´s first line and refrain. The poem's other equally famous refrain is "Rage, rage against the dying of the light."
Objectives: By the end of this lesson, students will understand:
- how do Housman and Thomas present death in their poems
- common poetic devices, such as rhyme and sound
- and recognize the poetic forms of elegy and villanelle
Grade Level: High School - Grades 10-12
Subject: Literature and Language Arts
Time Needed: Two 50-minute class periods
Provided by: EDSITEment
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