Both the poem “Do not Go Gentle into That Good Night” by Thomas (1951) and the song “Tears in Heaven” by Clapton (1992) are imbued with the theme of death and reasoning on this topic. However, the authors use different contexts and take distinctive approaches in their messages. Clapton (1992) views death as an inevitable phenomenon to which he surrenders and cries out to heaven with hope and repentance. Thomas (1951), in turn, expresses rebelliousness and violent opposition to darkness as a metaphor for death. In addition, the poetic style of the two works in question is different. Clapton’s (1992) song is measured and calm, while Thomas’ (1951) poem has an immoral nature and is associated with rebellion rather than submission. Clapton (1992) faced the death of his child, which may explain his humility, and Thomas (1951) who dedicates his lines to his dying father is not ready to accept the impending death of the latter. The context is a key force explaining differences in presentation and literary styles, and both “Do not Go Gentle into That Good Night” and “Tears in Heaven” are widely recognized in their genres.
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Concept of Death
The use of death as a key subject is a characteristic feature of both works under consideration. Nevertheless, despite a similar theme, the authors treat this topic distinctively. The context of writing “Do not Go Gentle into That Good Night” aims to demonstrate Thomas’ (1951) unwillingness to let his dying father go into the unknown, and the poem’s title confirms this. For Clapton (1992), death is familiar as he sings about his son who tragically passed away at the age of four. The songwriter sings the following: “I must be strong and carry on,” and this line shows that he accepts the parting (Clapton, 1992). The works were written in different eras, but they also have similarities that lie in the appeal to the theme of death and its influence on the worldview. The target audience can also be identified because there are no specific calls or open appeals.
The feeling of loss through death is a feature that unites both authors and serves as the main tool for explaining their emotional experiences. Stylistically and linguistically, Thomas’ (1951) poem is richer not only due to the peculiarities of versification but also because of the breadth of his ideas. The author describes death from different perspectives and analyzes how people with distinctive natures perceive it (Thomas, 1951). Clapton’s (1992) style is less complex, which may be explained by the requirements for writing popular songs. As a result, stylistically, “Do not Go Gentle into That Good Night” is a richer work than “Tears in Heaven” both from a linguistic position and from the perspective of describing the concept of death.
Expressions of Love
Each of the works has an individual context, but in both of them, love for loved ones is a basic premise. Clapton (1992) addresses his song to his deceased son, and although he does not address him by name, the content hints at hidden dialogue unambiguously: “Would you know my name if I saw you in heaven?” Thomas’ poem (1951) is also addressed to his loved one, but the author communicates with his father, who is still alive but is between life and death. In the last lines, Thomas (1951) addresses the father directly: “And you, my father, there on the sad height,” and this approach allows the reader to feel the closeness of the author to his parent. Each of the works shows love distinctively, but one common sense of loss brings them closer together.
The concept of love itself is not as vividly expressed as the concept of death, and the context of both works is the only tool that reveals the implications. Clapton’s (1992) approach is more hidden than that of Thomas’ (1951), which can be interpreted from the standpoint of a dulled sense of loss. The Welsh poet feels the impending death of his father and denies it: “Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay” (Thomas, 1951). Thus, comparing the principles of expressing love makes it possible to assess the degree of the authors’ anxiety and their concern with the raised issues.
Submission and Opposition
One of the significant aspects that becomes clear when analyzing the two works is the willingness to recognize and accept death as an inevitable phenomenon. Even though both authors raise this topic, Clapton’s (1992) behavior appears to be humbler and submissive than that of Thomas’ (1951). The songwriter approaches heaven with apprehension and caution and admits that he is a stranger in this place: “’Cause I know I just can’t stay here in heaven” (Clapton, 1992). Thomas (1951), conversely, is determined and demonstrates clear opposition to the impending death of his father. The poet writes the following: “Rage, rage against the dying of the light,” and this call is the leitmotif of the entire work (Thomas, 1951). In addition, the linguistic filling with verbs in the imperative mood confirms the unwillingness to put up with the upcoming events and indicates the rebellious and immoral nature of the poem’s meaning.
Cautiousness and rebelliousness form the main distinctive background, and while the themes of death and love bring the two works together, the aspect of accepting the problem is a key difference. Most of Clapton’s (1992) song is written in the subjunctive mood, which speaks of the songwriter’s uncertainty and doubts, while Thomas (1951) expresses his position firmly. Therefore, both the song and the poem deserve individual analysis, and the comparison allows determining both authors’ unique approaches.
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“Do not Go Gentle into That Good Night” and “Tears in Heaven” are recognized masterpieces in their genres, and despite a similar background, the essence of the authors’ messages is clear due to the context. The concepts of death and endless love for loved ones are revealed through direct appeals and hidden hints. Submission and strong opposition are the key differences that are reflected both linguistically and semantically.
Clapton, E. (1992). Tears in heaven [Song]. On Rush [Album]. Warner Bros. Records.
Thomas, D. (1951). Do not go gentle into that good night. Poets.org. Web.