How can I write a critical appreciation of "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night" by Dylan Thomas?

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willowswriter eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Dylan Thomas directed the poem "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night" to his dying father, though his father did not in fact die until several years later. It may have been that Thomas' father fell into sickness, and recovered. In any case, the poem seems to be written so.

While the refrain of the poem is one of the most famous in poetry—

"Rage, rage against the dying of the light."

—the poem seems to be less about the person dying in the poem than about the poet himself, who seems to have not come to any peace with death. The poem is littered with grief and remorse over things undone:

"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."'

In other words, these men 'forked no lightning', created no light in the dark, therefore their work is undone, and thus the railing against the coming of the night.

The poem is one of a poet questioning the purpose of his own life, and in transference, layering it over the death of another. The poet fears his own death, whether aware of that or not, and tells himself in the poem to rail against it, while he still has time.

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