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‘Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night’

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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 …

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