Gentle into That Good Night and This Is it: A Comparison
Dylan Thomas' poem Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night and the Kenny Loggins, Michael McDonald song This Is It both deal with the mortality of man. Each is a plea to a dying father, Thomas' and Loggins', not to give up the good fight as they neared death. Both works are saying that even at the end of life one should choose to fight against the inevitability of death.
Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night
Thomas' poem is composed of six stanzas of three lines each except the sixth with four. The rhyme scheme is A, B, A with the last line alternating between Rage, rage against the dying of the light, and Do not go gentle into that good night. The last stanza ends with both refrains, thus the extra line and an A, B, A, A pattern. Except for the second line of stanza five each line in the poem has ten syllables. The first syllable in a line is unstressed, the second is stressed, the third is unstressed, and the fourth is stressed, and so on. Thus, the poem is in iambic pentameter.
Thomas begins his poem with second person point-of-view telling his father and the readers to fight tell the last gasp. The second is line Old age should burn and rave at the close of day. Close of day refers to the end of life. The dying of the light refers to death. He switches to third person in the second stanza making a declarative statement when he says wise men "do not go gentle." The statement that dark is right refers to the inevitability of death, however, this does not preclude on from resisting death's grip. The third stanza continues in the third person and is one declarative sentence and expresses a similar message as the second stanza, men facing death realize they could have done more and thus fight against the dying of the light. The fourth stanza, again in third person and a single declarative sentence, continues with the same message. The term wild men has the same force as good men and wise men, and though these men had their moment in the light, they grieve that they had not done more so they do not go gentle. In the fifth stanza grave or serious men also fight against death for they too see with blinding sight that death is the end. Thomas is imploring us not to be blinded by death's presents. The sixth stanza returns to second person as Thomas notes that if his father cursed him it would be evidence of the fact that he had not given up, and thus a blessing.
This is It
The title of the song, "This Is It," refers to the time before death when one has a choice of fighting or succumbing to death. This song, inspired by Kenny Loggins' dying father is, like Thomas' poem, a plea not to give in to death.
At one point in the song's evolution, its melody was underway, but the lyrics were incomplete. Loggins moved it forward after a visit to his ailing father, who had undergone a series of surgeries for vascular problems stemming from small strokes and was discouraged at the prospect of another. The song was originally conceived as a love song. However, Loggins revealed that after talking with his father he "gave me the feeling that he was ready to check out. He'd given up, he wasn't thinking in terms of the future" (Song Facts). This inspired the artist to rework the piece as a 'life song'.
The song is a pretty straight forward message to his father about how he feels his father should face death. The piece begins with the lyric "There've been times in my life, I've been wondering why." The 'why' may be interpreted as the meaning of life.
Later in the song Loggins states, "No time for wondern' why. It's here, the moment is now, about to decide." In other words, if his father gives in the decision of life or death will be made for him. "You make the choice of how it goes…For once in your life, here's your miracle. Stand up and fight. This is it!" This is it only if his father wants it to be.