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By Dylan Thomas (1914–1953)
A comment by John Birtwhistle
‘Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night’ is the title and refrain of a well known poem by Dylan Thomas.1 Of course it rhymes with the poem's other refrain: ‘Rage, rage against the dying of the light.’ For copyright reasons we cannot reprint the whole poem, but it is very familiar and is easily found online or in anthologies. It is considered here because it is one of those poems that often come to mind when a person is dying, and it is frequently read at funerals.
The poem was written when Thomas' own father was dying. With its command of the strict poetic form known as ‘villanelle,’ the poem meets the need that even the most secular of us have for a high formal rhetoric at such moments: words of beauty, hope and courage. Thomas had achieved this kind of eloquence once before, with his poem ‘And death shall have no dominion.’ What is distinctive about ‘Do Not Go Gentle…’ …
Competing interests None.