Sunday, January 04, 2015

#784. Do not go gentle into that good night

Dylan Thomas originally published the poem "Do not go gentle into that good night" in 1952.  I'm writing about it today because it seems to have become the latest go-to poem in pop culture, succeeding Yeats' "The Second Coming."

Need reminding what "...into that good night" is?  Here it is:

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.

Most notably, Michael Caine recites it in Christopher Nolan's Interstellar:

Strangely, wrestler John Cena has also done a version:

And I've seen it referenced in the pages of Grant Morrison's Annihilator.  I am likely among a very select few to have noticed such a common link, between movies, professional wrestling, and comic books.

Caine's reading is particularly haunting as he intones "rage, rage" in his deepest range, creating an evocative effect as his character propels a team of astronauts into the unknown.  It's a message, I think, that like "The Second Coming" speaks to our uncertainties about the future, which seems to have become the mantra of our modern age, though issued as a note of defiance.  (In case you were wondering, WWE, like Levis, does tend to use classic literary references more often than you'd think.)

As a student of literature, I like seeing nods like this, especially if they're striking, as this one is in each of the instances I've spotted it lately.

1 comment:

Pat Dilloway said...

I think most people only know the rage part.

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