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 used as the text for the 1954 In Memoriam Dylan Thomas (Dirge-Canons and Song) for tenor and chamber ensemble, by Igor Stravinsky. The piece was written soon after Thomas' death and first performed in 1954.[3]
  • The poem was the inspiration for three paintings by Swansea-born painter and print-maker Ceri Richards, in 1954, 1956 and 1965 respectively.[4]
  • 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.[5]
  • The poem is referred to in the Matched novel trilogy by Ally Condie. The poem is given to Cassia by her grandfather, although she later destroys it. It is also referred to in the other books of the trilogy, Crossed and Reached.
  • The poem is used heavily by the character Professor John Brand, played by Michael Caine, (later read in segments/turns by several actors) in the 2014 science-fiction film Interstellar.[7]


  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. ^ Keller, Hans (1955). "In Memoriam Dylan Thomas: Strawinsky's Schoenbergian Technique". Tempo (35): 13–20. 
  4. ^ "Ceri Richards: 'Do not go gentle into that good night' 1956". Retrieved 22 October 2013. 
  5. ^ Dangerfield, Rodney; Fields, Greg; Snee, Greg (1986). Back to School. United States: Orion Pictures. 
  6. ^ "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. 
  7. ^ "IMDB Interstellar (2014) Quote". 

External links[edit]