Do not go gentle into that good night

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"Do not go gentle into that good night" is a poem in the form of a villanelle, and the most famous work of Welsh poet Dylan Thomas (1914–1953).[1] Though first published in the journal Botteghe Oscure in 1951,[2] it was actually written in 1947 when he was in Florence with his family. It was published, along with other stories previously written, as part of his In Country Sleep, And Other Poems in 1952.[1]

It has been suggested that it was written for Thomas' dying father, although he did not die until just before Christmas 1952.[3] It has no title other than its first line, "Do not go gentle into that good night", a line which appears as a refrain throughout. Its other refrain is "Rage, rage against the dying of the light".

The poem currently remains under copyright,[note 1] but was made publicly available here [1] at (with the copyright holder's permission).

Use in popular culture[edit]

  • It 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.[5]
  • It was the inspiration for three paintings by Swansea-born painter and print-maker Ceri Richards, in 1954, 1956 and 1965 respectively.[6]
  • It is quoted by the character of Goldie Hawn in the 1972 film Butterflies Are Free.
  • The title of George R. R. Martin's first novel, the 1977 Dying of the Light, about a planet moving away from its life-supporting stars, was inspired by the poem.
  • It is quoted in the 1986 novel Heart of the Comet by David Brin and Gregory Benford.
  • It 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 it to inspire him to complete an exam.[7]
  • It is sung by John Cale on his 1989 album Words for the Dying.[8]
  • It is quoted by the character François Bernardine in Chapter 19, in the third Jason Bourne novel written by Robert Ludlum, The Bourne Ultimatum. [9]
  • It is quoted by Gene Hackman in 1990 movie Loose Cannons.
  • It is quoted by the band Chumbawamba in the song "Rage", which appears on their 1994 album Anarchy.
  • It is featured in the movie 1995 Dangerous Minds.
  • In the 1996 film Independence Day, the President makes a rousing speech as he prepares to lead the attack against the alien invaders, adapting Thomas' line, saying, "We will not go quietly into the night".[10]
  • It is recited near the end of the song "Two-Twenty-Nine" by the band Brave Saint Saturn, track 11 from their So Far from Home album released in 2000.
  • In the 2000 episode "Fore, Father" of the cartoon Family Guy, an ill Stewie Griffin tells himself: "Fight it Stewie, fight it. 'Do not go gentle into that good night,' to quote Bob Dylan. Wait, no, wait, Dylan Thomas."
  • It is used by the character Declan, played by Ewen Bremner, in the 2003 film The Rundown.
  • It is the inspiration for the Anaal Nathrakh song "Rage, Rage Against the Dying of the Light", which appears on their 2004 album Domine Non Es Dignus.
  • The Doctor quotes from it in the 2007 episode "The Shakespeare Code" of the series Doctor Who, humorously warning William Shakespeare that he can't use it as it's "someone else's".
  • It is referred to in the 2010 Matched novel trilogy by Ally Condie. It 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 title is used as the name of the 2011 episode 20, season 3 of the TV show The Vampire Diaries.
  • The first line is quoted in the TV series Adventure Time by Princess Bubblegum in the 2013 "Sky Witch" epidsode.
  • It is referenced in the song "Sudden Life" by Rise Against in their 2014 album The Black Market.
  • The line "rage against the dying of the light" is referenced in the song "Even My Dad Does Sometimes" by Ed Sheeran.
  • The 2013 song "Lightkeeper" by Bo Bruce references it in its line "rage against the dying of your light".[11]
  • Aatrox, a playable character in the 2009 video game League of Legends, has "rage against the dying of the light" as one of his quotes.
  • In episode 16, season 4 of White Collar, in 2012, Reese Hughes says, "They forced me out, Peter. Well, I decided I was not gonna go gently into that good night", in reference to his being fired from his job.
  • The epitaph of Amy Dyer references it in the 2013 second episode of the BBC Three series In the Flesh.
  • The line "don't go gentle into the goodnight, rage on against the dying light" is used at the end of the song "Somebody to Die For" written and performed by British duo Hurts from their second studio album Exile (2013).
  • Cartoonist Dave Kellett uses it to to illustrate the difficulties of getting children to go to bed, in his Sheldon comic.[12]
  • It is used repeatedly by the character Professor John Brand, played by Michael Caine, in the 2014 film Interstellar.[13][14]
  • It was used by Frank Gallagher, in March 2015, in the US series of Shameless (S5, E10).
  • It is featured in the 2015 TV spot for WWE 2K15, narrated by John Cena.
  • It is partially recited in the 2015 episode 7, series 7 of Benidorm by the character of Glynn Flint.
  • It is the inspiration for the title of the last book in the Skulduggery Pleasant series, The Dying Of The Light.
  • Lines from the poem is sung in Ben Caplan's song "Down to the River"
  • Clara Oswald from the British sci-fi show Doctor Who mentions the name of this poem in the 2015 episode "The Magician's Apprentice".


  1. ^ COPYRIGHT: From The Poems of Dylan Thomas, published by New Directions. Copyright © 1952, 1953 Dylan Thomas. Copyright © 1937, 1945, 1955, 1962, 1966, 1967 the Trustees for the Copyrights of Dylan Thomas. Copyright © 1938, 1939, 1943, 1946, 1971 New Directions Publishing Corp.[4]


  1. ^ a b "Dylan Thomas". Academy of American Poets. He took his family to Italy, and while in Florence, he wrote In Country Sleep, And Other Poems (Dent, 1952), which includes his most famous poem, “Do not go gentle into that good night.” 
  2. ^ Ferris, Paul (1989). Dylan Thomas, A Biography. New York: Paragon House. p. 283. ISBN 1-55778-215-6. 
  3. ^ "Dylan Thomas: Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night". BBC Wales. 6 November 2008. Archived from the original on 27 November 2012. Retrieved 18 December 2010. 
  4. ^ "Do not go gentle into that good night | Academy of American Poets". Retrieved 1 September 2015. 
  5. ^ Keller, Hans (1955). "In Memoriam Dylan Thomas: Strawinsky's Schoenbergian Technique". Tempo (35): 13–20. 
  6. ^ "Ceri Richards: 'Do not go gentle into that good night' 1956". Retrieved 22 October 2013. 
  7. ^ Dangerfield, Rodney; Fields, Greg; Snee, Greg (1986). Back to School. United States: Orion Pictures. 
  8. ^ "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. 
  9. ^ "The Bourne Ultimatum, by Robert Ludlum - Google Books". 
  10. ^ Mair, Jan (1998). "American rules, OK: Difference and otherness in `Independence Day'". Futures 30 (10): 981–991. (subscription required (help)). 
  11. ^ "Lightkeeper lyrics". LyricsFreak. 
  12. ^ "Sheldon® Comic Strip". 
  13. ^ Wade, Chris (5 November 2014). ""Do not go gentle into that good night" in Interstellar, Back to School, and many other movies: the supercut (VIDEO)". Slate. 
  14. ^ "IMDB Interstellar (2014) Quotes". 

External links[edit]