Thursday, September 4, 2014

A Case of the DTs


Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

Dylan Thomas


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.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight,
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


   The clergyman on the radio was most eloquent upon his theme: old men should not be crotchety or cantankerous, tap their walking-sticks in an aggressive manner, look yearningly upon the bodies of young women, chastise the youthful for their youthful follies, demand the respect of wise-old-age, or otherwise make their presence felt in a manner that might hint at obstinate refusal to grow old silently and yield the threshing-floor to the coming generation. Life, he insisted, is a miraculous gift, which we should accept in humble gratitude, conduct according to the commandments, and cede at last in gentle resignation; to do otherwise would be churlish and undignified, unworthy of a Christian and insolent to our maker.

   With a thud I switched off the radio and quieted my furious indignation by reciting Thomas.


   (For those interested in the technicalities of poetry, the form of this poem is a villanelle.)





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