The poem Do not go gentle into that good night, is structured as a villanelle. It is an exhortation to die gracefully, but not without giving a good fight to Death, the inevitable. The phrase “Good night” acts both as a metaphor and a pun. Dylan Thomas being a Surrealist employs a number of images.
The poet entreats with one not to give in easily (gentle) to Death. The night is a metaphor for death, as it connotes darkness, mystery and a sense of closing. Old age should not meekly submit to the ravages of Death, but should fire and fume at the dying of the light. The ‘dying of the light’ signifies death and denotes the last time a person closes his eyes. Wise men do comprehend that dark is ‘right’ ;or rather that the dark is the ultimate truth. All the knowledge they profess to possess, cannot combat death: it ’forked no lightening’ with regards to death. Their profound knowledge has not equipped them with the means to foresee death .Yet, they do not subjugate themselves to the idea of death. Good men are remorseful towards the close of their life as they recall their frail deeds which would have otherwise ‘danced in a green bay.’ The benefits of sowing good deeds would have reaped rich benefits. This ‘fertility’ and ‘prosperity of paradise is symbolized by the colour ‘green’. Yet they endeavour to make amends till their last breath, and ‘rage, rage’ against the dying light. Here the ‘dying light’ also stands for the ray of hope.
The people who whiled away their life frivolously and wildly dared to catch/triumph over Time(caught and sang the sun in flight).But Time, the Universal Enemy had conquered them. As they realized it late ,they regret the onslaught of time over wasted moments. Yet the poet beseeches with them to not timidly lose to the Death, the Vanquisher.Grave men are handicapped by the blinding of their sight. The word ‘grave’ is utilized as a pun here.The term ‘blinding sight’ functions as an oxymoron. For them, the darkness of death does not pose to be a great threat. As they are already familiar with their predicament of eternal darkness, their blind eyes act like meteors, and death can be easily embraced. However, the poet pleads with them to not to embrace it so whole-heartedly. For what separates these two sources of darkness, is the light of Life.
The poem seems to be addressed to the poet’s dying father who grew frail with old age as he spent a considerable time in the army. Since records from history prove that the poet never showed the poem to his father; it may also be addressed to the Lord. Here the word ’father’ is not capitalized. Nevertheless, the phrase ‘on the sad height’ forces us to contemplate on those lines. He pleads with God to ‘curse’ him less for the fierce tears. For the fight with death is not the fight with God. Rather, it is the cherishing of the gift of life that God has endowed us with:
And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, less, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Ironically, Dylan Thomas died prematurely at the age of 39.
“The poem and in particular its two refrains ‘Do not go gentle into that good night’ and ‘Rage, rage against the dying of the light’ have became much quoted in popular culture. Welsh works to use the poem in their titles include the 2001 film, Against the Dying of the Light, which commemorated the work of the National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales and 2002 release Do Not Go Gentle. Films to use part of, or a paraphrase from the poem have include such diverse titles as comedies Dragnet and Back to School, high school drama Dangerous Minds and was part quoted by Bill Pullman in his defiant presidential speech in the 1996 blockbuster action movie Independence Day.”(Wikpedia)
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