Thus, "narratives are the way in which humans make sense of the world, including its peoples, institutions, and myriad individuals" (Young, 2001, p. This is true not only of language and culture, but also individual experience, because even the concept of the "self" is dependent on creating an internal narrative of past experiences (Young, 2001, p. As a result, birth and death have special places within human beings' own personal narratives, because they mark the points at which the individual cannot affect his or her own story.
Although people might be aware of what came before their birth, and could likely predict some of what comes after their death, these events nevertheless place hard limits on the extent of any individuals personal, experienced narrative.
Even before discussing the content of either poem one may note their formal and stylistic similarities.
Both poems are six stanzas long with just a few lines in each stanza (four per stanza in Dickinson and three per stanza in Thomas, except for the last which features four lines).
By examining the two poems in conjunction with each other, it becomes clear that both the acceptance and refusal of death are born out of the same human need to generate meaning from the finite experience of a seemingly infinite universe.
At the most basic level, all human meaning is born out of narrative, simply because human beings experience time in a linear fashion, and as a result all meaning comes from the linking between one event and the next.
Death in Thomas and Dickinson In many ways, Dylan Thomas' "Do not go gentle into that good night" and Emily Dickinson's "Because I could not stop for death" are ideal texts to consider when attempting to examine human beings anxieties regarding death, dying, and the longing for permanence, because they make vastly different points in strikingly similar ways.
That is to say, while they share some elements of form, style, and topic, the commentary they give on the topic could not be more different.
As the title suggests, Thomas' poem is a vocal entreaty to struggle for every bit of life in the face of impermanence, while Dickinson's poem takes a positively lackadaisical approach to the concept of death, viewing it as a transition into immortality rather than a fall into obscurity and darkness.
However, despite their nearly oppositional statements regarding death, one can actually view the two poems as a synthesis of humanity's own oppositional and sometimes contradictory views regarding death.