Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night by Dylan Thomas

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Dylan Thomas’s ‘Do Not Go Gently into That Good Night’ is a son’s plea to his ill father as he lay on his deathbed, fighting the inevitable. The son, nevertheless, motivates his father to hold on to a reason to live instead of giving ‘into that good night’.

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.

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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.

Analysis of Thomas’s “Do Not Go Gently into That Good Night”

The poem works as a narration. As a father would narrate stories of fable to his son at night by his bedside, this is a story being told by the son to his father on his deathbed; the roles have switched. In order to reinforce the will of living into his dying father, the speaker classifies men into four different types who all, while being unalike in nature, may have reasons to fight for a bit more time.

First comes the “wise men” who, although may be sensible enough to realize that death cannot be fought, wish to be given some more to be able to accomplish enough so that the world remembers their names even after they are gone. The “good men” are those who could have gone on to perform even greater deeds for humanity had they been given the opportunity to live a little longer. Next comes the “wild men”: these are the men who spent most of their life chasing down impossible dreams and always living at the edge. Now that they have reached the end of the fierce fight, they wish for some more time to right a few of the wrongs they have done. At last, we have the “grave men” who, despite the decaying body and the nearing death sentence, still possess a yearn for life that cannot be compromised even as the last leaf falls off.

The motive is to assure his father and his readers that regardless of our personalities, choices and outcomes, we all have reason to live, even if for one more day. It is not explained which category the poet believed his father to belong to. It could also be that instead of categories, the types were a progression Thomas used in order to deduce what his father truly saw himself to be.

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