Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

The first line of a poem by Dylan Thomas. I have always taken it to mean that we should live our lives to the fullest, not letting the inevitability of death sap from us the meaning and zest of life. We are only here for a short time, and we must make the most of it, making the world a better place for the others who share this planet with us, sparks of life in a dark universe.

Reading a little about the poem tonight, I learned that Thomas wrote it for his dying, aged father.

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.

Knowing it is written for a man at the end of his life makes me think it is trying to urge him to cling to life, rather than arguing for the full life. The analysis at Wikipedia argues that Thomas wrote it as much for himself as for his father, which brings us back to the idea that it is urging a full life.

What do you think? How do you interpret the poem?

Leave a comment


  1. This is one of my favorite poems. I envisioned it to mean something more similar to not dying with regrets, to not give up at the end of your life but keep living, to keep fighting. I never knew he wrote it for his father, though. So the plot thickens.

    • There are so many ways to interpret this poem — and it all changes when you take the whole poem into consideration, not just the 1st and 3rd lines of the 3rd stanza, which are the most commonly quoted. In the Wikipedia article I linked to, it mentions that he may also have been writing it for himself — he had a fear of death from the age of 14, which changes the interpretation yet again.

  2. Good piece of writing, good luck with creating in the future!

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