What does Thomas mean by "too late" in stanza 4?

Thomas uses the phrase "too late" in stanza 4 of "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night" to exemplify the way daring souls are so absorbed in living that they fail to see the sunset, or death, on the horizon.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In the fourth stanza, the speaker considers the "wild" or daring men who chase the sun's journey. The sun begins each day with a gorgeous sunrise, which is often representative of new life in literature. A sunrise holds hope and promise, flooding the sky with gorgeous colors. New life, likewise, is promising and beautiful, and it is easy to hold on to these ideals as the sun begins its journey across the sky.

Daring men, then, celebrate the beautiful journey of life even as it becomes clear that sunset is on the horizon. As the sun begins to dip in the western sky, it again becomes fantastically stunning, captivating onlookers with its majestic display. This one final burst of color is an indicator that the day—or life, in this poem—is nearing its end.

Yet the most daring of men continue to "sing" through this flight of the sun. They are so busy celebrating the splendor of sunset that they don't realize the truth of that final display of color until it is "too late." Their celebratory actions actually steer them toward death, and they fail to recognize that the end of life is imminent, because they are so absorbed in living.

Nevertheless, these daring souls refuse to slip quietly from the earth, instead raging against the "dying of the light."

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial