“Do not go gentle into that good night.” –Dylan Thomas

It flows so.

Full Poem With Audio of Dylan Thomas

I still don’t fully understand this poem. I can’t offer an interpretation except I know for sure that this poem is about fighting death. Understanding this makes me wonder about the importance of being able to understand something entirely in order to appreciate it.

Words and Phrases I still don’t get:

“…their words had forked no lightning…”

“green bay”

“Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay”

I was reading about Dylan Thomas some weeks ago. I read that he fell in love with poetry because of the way the words sounded when they were read to him as a child. It was only later on when he understood their meanings. Wikipedia on This

It makes me think about how the presentation is as important as the message itself…which makes me think of Katherine Hayles’s Writing Machines and Espen Aarseth’s Cybertext.

Fun fact: Bob Dylan was influenced by Dylan Thomas’s poetry so much that he had changed his name from Robert Allen Zimmerman to Bob Dylan.

I was reminded about these thoughts because of this blog entry I read a few minutes ago: Words in Motion


One thought on ““Do not go gentle into that good night.” –Dylan Thomas

  1. Dylan Thomas wrote “Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night,” as a lament to his own father’s death. To understand the lines in question, you must first place into context the larger concept of the poem itself. To address the first line in question, “Because their words had forked no lightning… ” you must reference back to the first line of the stanza, “Though wise men at their end know dark is right…” Dylan Thomas means to say that the wise know that death is the only logical conclusion (i.e. “dark is right”) at the end of their natural lives, but because “their words had forked no lightning,” a euphemism for their deeds and actions failing to light up the sky, as would a bolt of forked lightening, they should make a valiant effort to impart their dying legacy upon the living, ergo, “…they Do not go gentle into that good night.”

    The second phrase in question, “Green bay,” is simply a clever pun, or play on words. Again, to put this odd phrase into context, you must reference the preceding line: “Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright (again an allusion to the aforementioned lightning) Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay.” The pun here involves the words “the last wave by” and “green bay.” What Dylan Thomas is saying is that as the dying man’s final moments “wave by” he is envious of those men (or those of his own children) whose deeds have lit the sky or danced in the “green bay.”

    The final statement in question is a bit trickier to comprehend. My best attempt to describe the diction and syntax of this stanza again requires one to examine the preceding stanza. In the previous stanza, Dylan Thomas describes the wild man who caught and sang the sun in flight, only to grieve it on its way. To paraphrase: the man who celebrated life carelessly until the fateful moment at which he realizes that it is irrevocably escaping his grasp. The stanza also contains elements of astronomy. Life can be accurately summed by the number of rotations about the sun one experiences. The same could be said of a meteor – as the meteor approaches the sun, it blazes in the fury of the star’s glow. However, as the meteor is slung around the sun, it faces the immense cold and lifelessness of space once again. A fitting metaphor for life, no?

    I hope this helps!

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