Student Activity

Death in Poetry

Death in Poetry

Section: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

1) Death. Perhaps no other theme elicits such deep and varied emotions from individuals across the globe. It's no wonder, then, that poets through the ages—no matter the time or place—have sought to address death through poetry. Read the following poems by A.E. Housman and Dylan Thomas and begin to consider the theme of death in poetry.

2) Conduct in-depth analysis of the poems' form and meaning using the corresponding student analysis worksheet, available in PDF form below

3) Compare and contrast the poems by completing the Venn diagrams using the following guiding questions.

  • Venn Diagram worksheet (PDF)
  • How do the speakers differ? How are they similar?
  • How would you describe the tone of each poem? How does the tone of each poem differ? Is the tone the same at certain parts of the poem?
  • How is the use of sound devices similar in each poem? How is it different?
  • What are the similarities and differences of the poems’ rhyme schemes?
  • What effect does Thomas' use of the villanelle form have on the tone of "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night" in contrast to "To an Athlete Dying Young"?
  • What are the similarities and differences between each poem's presentation of death?
  • How else would you compare and contrast these poems?

4) Other possible poems for consideration include the following: