Do not go gentle into that good night

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"Do not go gentle into that good night" is a poem, or more precisely a villanelle, written by Welsh poet Dylan Thomas (1914–1953), considered to be one of his finest works. Originally published in the journal Botteghe Oscure in 1951,[1] it also appeared as part of his 1952 collection In Country Sleep and other poems.

Written for his dying father, it is one of Thomas's most popular and accessible poems.[2] The poem has no title other than its first line, "Do not go gentle into that good night", a line which appears as a refrain throughout. The poem's other equally famous refrain is "Rage, rage against the dying of the light".

Use in popular culture[edit]

The poem was the inspiration for three paintings by Swansea-born painter and print-maker Ceri Richards, in 1954, 1956 and 1965 respectively.[3]

The poem is recited by the character Thornton Melon, played by Rodney Dangerfield, in the 1986 film Back to School where his English professor has him recite the poem to inspire him to complete an exam.[4]

The poem is sung by John Cale on his 1989 album Words for the Dying.[5]

This poem provides inspiration and motivation to Cassia Reyes, the main character of Ally Condie's dystopia young adult fiction novel Matched. In the novel, Cassia's grandfather reveals that Cassia's compact, an artifact from her grandmother, contains a forbidden scrap of paper that holds two old poems, one by Alfred, Lord Tennyson and this poem by Dylan Thomas.[6]

The Doctor, played by David Tennant, quotes the famous line "Rage, rage against the dying of the light" in the BBC television series Doctor Who. The quote appears in Series 3, Episode 2, entitled "The Shakespeare Code".[7]

Part of the poem's title is referenced in the title of a mission in the video game Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag.[clarification needed]

The leitmotif lines from the poem were quoted in the song "Somebody to Die For" by British synthpop duo Hurts.[8]

The titular line is referenced in the song "Sudden Life" by Rise Against from their album The Black Market.

In 1967 CBS Playhouse aired a teleplay based on the poem that starred Shirley Booth and Lois Smith.

A modified version of the titular line is used in the climactic presidential speech from the 1996 film Independence Day, "We will not go quietly into the night."

The character Aatrox, in the video game League of Legends recites "Rage against the dying of the light" as an occasional voice over line.

"The Dying of the Light" is the title of the last book in the Skulduggery Pleasant series.

The poem is featured in a classroom scene in the film My Girl 2.

In the episode "Fore Father" of the cartoon Family Guy, an ill Stewie Griffin tells himself: "Do not go gentle into that good night, to quote Bob Dylan. Wait, no, wait, Dylan Thomas."

WWE Superstar John Cena recites the well-known lines of the poem in a voice over for the video game WWE 2K15.

It is referenced in BBC 3 show 'In The Flesh' as one of the characters has two lines from the poem on their grave stone.

On July 29, 2013, the popular Cartoon Network cartoon Adventure Time aired an episode entitled Sky Witch during which Princess Bubblegum exclaims: "No! NOOO! NOOOOO! Don't go on gentle into that good night." while trying to avoid succumbing to sleeping gas.[9]

In honour of Thomas' centenary, actor and fellow Welshman, Jonathan Pryce read the poem at the close of BBC2's Newsnight on 24 October 2014.[10]

Professor Brand, portrayed by Michael Caine, recites lines from the poem at different points in the 2014 film Interstellar. It also serves as an underlying theme to the struggles of Cooper (played by Matthew McConnaughey) in the film.

"Rage against the dying of the light" is used to conclude the 2009 song Here and Now by Canadian folk rock band Great Big Sea.


  1. ^ Ferris, Paul (1989). Dylan Thomas, A Biography. New York: Paragon House. p. 283. ISBN 1-55778-215-6. 
  2. ^ "Dylan Thomas: Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night". BBC WalesArts. 6 November 2008. Retrieved 18 December 2010. 
  3. ^ "Ceri Richards: 'Do not go gentle into that good night' 1956". Retrieved 22 October 2013. 
  4. ^ Dangerfield, Rodney; Fields, Greg; Snee, Greg (1986). Back to School (in English). United States: Orion Pictures. 
  5. ^ "Dylan Thomas’ “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” Performed by John Cale (and Produced by Brian Eno)". Open Culture. 30 April 2014. Retrieved 22 November 2014. 
  6. ^ Condie, Ally (2010). Matched. Dutton Juvenile. ISBN 9780142419779. 
  7. ^ "Shakespeare Code, The" (in English). ["Doctor Who"]. [3. Episode 2]. Apr 7, 2007. Archived from the original on Aug 27, 2014.*/ Retrieved Sep 22, 2014.
  8. ^ Hurts (July 21, 2013). "Somebody to Die For". Somebody to Die For. MTV UK. Retrieved May 28, 2014. 
  9. ^ "'Sky Witch' Transcript". Sky Witch/Transcript. 
  10. ^ "BBC iPlayer - Newsnight - 24/10/2014". BBC iPlayer. 

External links[edit]