Poem for the Day: September 5th, 2021

Do not go gentle into that good night by Dylan Thomas

Do not go gentle into that good night, 
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green
bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding
sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I
pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

It’s almost cliché to love Dylan Thomas at this point and what a shame that is. Do not go gentle into that good night is so popular because it is so profound, opening itself up to multiple interpretations. Thomas wrote it as his father was ill and dying, the poem’s urgency borne of both his current and impending grief.

If dreams are deferred and passions put aside for more pressing matters, the regret found at the end of a life not fully lived can drive a soul to despair and a mind to madness. You want to beg for more time and the plea falls on deaf ears.

There’s also a fair amount of regret expressed: Though wise men at their end know dark is right, / Because their words had forked no lightning they / Do not go gentle into that good night. Oxford Languages gives the definition of forked lightning as “lightning that is visible in the form of a branching line across the sky.” People who are facing death are forced to reckon with the way they’ve spent their time on earth, and part of this is measuring the impact of one’s words and deeds. If dreams are deferred and passions put aside for more pressing matters, the regret found at the end of a life not fully lived can drive a soul to despair and a mind to madness. You want to beg for more time and the plea falls on deaf ears.

Bonus: Sir Anthony Hopkins reads Do not go gentle into that good night by Dylan Thomas

What did you think about today’s poem? Do any lines strike you in particular? Let me know in the comments.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter and Instagram @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

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