The Dying Of The Light And Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

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Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night is a poem by Dylan Thomas. It is about how Dylan believes that people with old age and being on the brink of death should not just accept death immediately and should fight it no matter how they lived. This is apparent throughout his poem when he describes four different types of people that fight against death even though it’s inevitable.

“Though wise men at their end know dark is right,” Dylan talks about wise men that may know that death is something they must accept in this sentence. But the next line says they fight it since they might believe they have not gained enough of a reputation or caused a big enough change in the world. Dylan suggests that they want to continue to live to be able to make a bigger name for themselves.

Dylan moves on and talks about “good men.” Firstly, he talks about “the last wave by,” this could possibly be from the dwindling population of good men and that his father was a good man and the world still needs him. Secondly, he talks about “crying how bright,” this could be those good men talking about their good deeds being very significant. However, as Dylan moves on, “their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,” he suggests that their claims of works of good may not be remembered as much as they remember it. The reference to “a green bay” could be a garden near sea where they could be for all of time. After thinking of the past, they wish to stay alive to try to mark their names in history and help more than they have.

The first line in the next stanza, “wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,” talks about “wild men” who lived in adventure and action. Chasing things they cannot catch, such as “the sun in flight.” They spent their lives exaggerating their experiences until they realize they must go. They grieve because they never spent time to just relax and settle down and now they can’t. Even with the end near, they do not surrender because they want more time to right their wrongs and even continue their adventures of their youth.

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In his last group Dylan talks about “grave men.” The line, “Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight,” is about men that know they’ve lived a long life and they’re bodily functions are degrading with time. They could also be depressed seeing their life fading. Their sight is failing with their entire body but there is still a blinding passion to continue to live. “Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,” could be how Dylan thinks that his father could be happy with living longer even though he is frail.

In his final stanza, ”And you, my father, there on that sad height” Dylan may not think his father is fighting to continue to live. “Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray” Dylan is praying for his father to not die. He is watching his father fade away and is torn by it begging his father to not go and to fight it. His father seems to have surrendered to death rather than to try to continue to live. Maybe he knows he had a good life and is longing to see a loved one again who passed a long time ago. Perhaps his wife, Dylan’s mother. Or his parents too.

This poem should matter to you, since everyone no matter how they’ve lived should fight for life while in the face of death. Dylan’s father did not fight for life, and Dylan seemed to be deeply torn by it. Perhaps Dylan wants us to fight for life when we are near death so that our loved ones may have hope to see us alive and well. You could use “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night” as encouragement for when a grandparent, parent or even friend is ill or about to die. Telling them to continue to live and giving them strength. He also encourages different types of men to resist dying and live their lives if they haven’t.

Dylan’s progression from wise men, good men to wild men, then to grave men could be from how Dylan has seen his father move in character. He was a wise and good man with a wild past, but has submitted and became a grave man that has accepted his death. Dylan had a lot of respect for his father, wanting him to continue to live on and help him more. “The only person I can’t show (the enclosed) poem to is, of course, my father, who doesn’t know he’s dying.” He noticed his father was dying even though his father either didn’t know or refused to accept it at the time.

He thinks that every man needs to make a change on the world during their lives and believes his father has not done so as much as he should have. He wants to postpone the inevitable by begging for more time, thinking that he could prove to his father that no matter what kind of person you were you should fight for life and not just give up. His final beg to his father finishes off the poem, “Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” It is full of passion but ends up as a hopeless plea.

Dylan’s use of the metaphor “good night” implies that he knew that death was right. He uses “good night” instead of a scary term for death to let his father know that it is right. He also refers to it as “the dying of the light” like a peaceful surrender. He begs his father to not surrender peacefully and to “rage against” it. The separation of groups emphasizes the importance of living, he leaves his father with a choice that he would like, choose life.

Dylan does a great job at pushing how he thinks old age should not be a reason to give up on the brink of death and fight for life. He uses a great metaphor “good night” to represent death as the right choice but says “do not go gentle” so as to fight it and continue to live. He also uses alliteration to really drive the phrase into us. 

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