Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night by Dylan Thomas: Summary and Critical Analysis

In the poem Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night the poet clarifies that the poem was an invocation to his dying father. The poet entreats his father to struggle hard against death. The hard struggle has been well implied by the word “rage” and its repetition. At this last moment of death, the poet becomes frustrated and desperate and wishes his father to cure for the wrongs done by him and bless for the good ones. This antithetical expression portrays the tense state of mind of the poet. He again invokes his father not to give but to fight for life.

Dylan Thomas (1914-1953)

As the poem “Do not Go Gentle into the Good Night” is full of contradictions and paradoxes, the three lines above also contradict with the preceding three lines where the poet says that wise people know that “darkness is right or death is invincible and it is right because they have not composed great poetry which would make them immortal. Here, in these three lines, the poet says that the people of action also grieve as they will die even before they have finished their work. Thus, approaching of “death” grieves both the sorts, of people- one whose words have not forked lightning and the other who are seriously engaged in their work.

We encounter the optimistic ideas of one of the most complicated modern British poets from the poem “ Do not Go Gentle into that Good Night”, whose poems are full of strange linguistic expression. Here the poet says that only sincere and mature men are able to resist the fear of death. This is because of their optimism and strong determination. Even with their failing eyesight, they can see afar. Their blind eyes are also glittering and are always gay. The poet says man can make himself as he wishes but he must have the will, courage and determination for it.

The poem “Do not Go Gentle into that Good Night” can be better understood by understanding the symbols of Dylan Thomas. “Good-night” implies farewell. This farewell may be temporary or permanent. This permanent farewell is death. The poet’s father is lying on the bed of death and the poet requests or rather appeals to him not to die without working for life. He entreats him to fight against death. “Good night”, “close of day” and “dying of the light”- all these three phrases imply death. “Rave” and “Rage” are the words through which the poet appeals to his father for his revival. The poet says that though wise people know that death is inevitable and it cannot be averted, they strive for their life. “Dark” is here the symbol of death. They prefer darkness because they have not composed good poetry which will make them immortal: “because their words had forked no lightning.” The repetition of “do not go gentle into that good night” in the stanzas strengthens the poet’s appeal made for his father’s life. This is also a feature of a villanelle. Villanelle consists of five tercets and a quatrain, all on two rhymes, and with systematic repetitions of lines 1 and 3 of the first tercet.

The poem is an appeal of the poet to his father suggesting that he must try to save himself from death, though death is inevitable and cannot be averted. Even the wisest men try to escape the cold grip of death. When death is imminent, these wise people suddenly grow repentant of their serious acts. They think that they have wasted their merry moments in serious acts and this negative or pessimistic thinking often lead to their frustration. On the other hand, men of action also repent as death approaches to them even before their actions are completed. Only “grave- men” have realized the inevitable truth about death through their divine or poetic illumination.

The poem consists of six stanzas. Five stanzas consist of three lines each and the final stanza is a quatrain. The five stanzas which consist of three lines have the rhyme-scheme of aba, aba and the quatrain rhymes abaa. The first and the last line of the first tercet are alternatively repeated as refrains at the end of each following tercet.

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Shrestha, Roma. "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night by Dylan Thomas: Summary and Critical Analysis." BachelorandMaster, 4 Nov. 2013,