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Monday, 3 June 2019

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

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Dylan Marlais Thomas 1914 - 1953

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 that 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.
The form of this poem is known as a vilanelle; a strict format with nineteen lines - five tercets (three lines) followed by a final quatrain of four lines. Notice that each stanza has the same ABA rhyming scheme.
The lines 'Do not go gentle into that good night' and 'Rage, rage against the dying of the light' have become iconic in their own right. The influence of this poem has become widespread since it's publication. It is an exhortation to resist the onset of death, written as his own father was dying. The poet gives the examples of how  'wise men', 'good men', 'wild men' and 'grave men' do not meekly accept the inevitable.
Television writers have borrowed deeply from the poem including Doctor Who, Northern Exposure, Mad Men and Family Guy. The poem's connotation with death and endings was used to effect in the final episodes of St. Elsewhere and Roseanne.
As well as taking his name from Dylan Thomas, Bob Dylan was hugely influenced by his writing style and developed Thomas's themes of conflict in his own lyric writing.
I'm listening to the Norwegian soprano, Sissel Kyrkjebø singing the spiritual song Going Home based on the largo (second movement) of Dvorzak's New World Symphony.
Listen here and be spellbound! I never tire of it.

10 comments:

Hels said...

Correct! 'Do not go gentle into that good night' and 'Rage, rage against the dying of the light' have absolutely become well known in their own right. And I wouldn't even been able to say where each line came from.

My second grandson's first name is a Hebrew name in memory of his late uncle, but his middle name is Dylan. My son said that he and his wife were was very influenced by Bob Dylan's writing and music.

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

The poem is beautiful and a favorite of mine. Then I listened to the music, Going Home. I am in tears now, Barry.

Parnassus said...

Hello Bazza, Actually, this is good advice for any age. Furthermore, if you pass a lifetime of non-raging, you probably won't start when the end is in sight.
--Jim

bazza said...

Hels: Both of the Dylans, Bob and Thomas, have had far-reaching influences!

bazza said...

Arleen: I love Sissel (she usually doesn't use her surname as no one can pronounce it!). The song is very moving.

bazza said...

Jim: That's excellent advice but we don't always have control over our own feelings...

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Bazza - excellent post - I loved reading the poem, as well as your interpretation for us ... Dylans: both are superb ... I need to read up more about both of them ... thanks for posting interesting ideas and thoughts - cheers Hilary

bazza said...

Hilary: Thanks for saying that. I have not had enough time to spend on Blogging recently but I always read your posts even if I don't comment!

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

For me, you just scored two goals. I'm familiar with both the poem and the song, and love them both. That rendition is absolutely beautiful. Now, I'll be singing it the rest of the day...

bazza said...

Susan: Hooray! Although the poem is rightly well-known, Sissel is not really appreciated in the UK, sadly.