Do not go gentle into that good night by Dylan Thomas, he begins with "Do not go gentle into that good night". He also uses this as one of two alternating refrains. In this poem, what does the "good night" symbolize?

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    surface level interpretation: don't give up (or die) without putting up a good fight.
    – DForck42
    Commented Jan 20, 2017 at 22:12

2 Answers 2


The "night" is obviously death, but the question is more why it is described as "good".

Dylan Thomas could easily have used a negative adjective such as "dread" or a neutral one such as "dark" to make the poem scan. Instead, he chooses a simple, positive adjective to set up opposing views within the poem. He does not want his father to die, or even to accept death willingly.

But at the same time, he has to admit the opposing view that death is a natural process and often welcomed by people who simply feel that they have had enough. The word "good" is a very abbreviated way of setting up that view; the rest of the poem consists of examples of why he thinks death should be resisted and why even an elderly person should never accept its inevitability.

The final stanza, where he asks his father to simultaneously curse and bless him with his tears, sums up this conflict. His father's "fierce tears" would be the proof of his father's reluctance to die. This would be a blessing in confirming his views, but it would be a curse because it would show his father's grief about his impending death - and it would not prevent him from dying.

Perhaps at this point Thomas realises how selfish his own wishes are.



This is hinted at in a few places in the poem, in particular "rage, rage against the dying of the light," and "Grave men, near death" in the second-to-last stanza, as well as "Though wise men at their end know dark is right."

But the real proof is found here. The first line of the article is:

Thomas' poem for his dying father, exploring the themes of grief and death

With this poem, Dylan Thomas urges his father to not go gently into that good night and to rage, rage against the dying of the light--to survive, to fight death. He's in essence saying "don't die on me."

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    This is a very basic interpretation of a complex poem. I don't think this answer should be accepted, as doing so discourages those with more sophisticated interpretations from answering this question.
    – user111
    Commented Jan 22, 2017 at 17:12
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    @Hamlet What would the good night symbolize in a more sophisticated interpretation then?
    – CHEESE
    Commented Jan 22, 2017 at 17:17
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    @Hamlet I don't doubt you're right, but why not write an answer of your own so that the OP has something to compare this with and a choice of answers to accept?
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Mar 5, 2017 at 18:04
  • @Randal'Thor because I don't have time to answer every question on this site, and because there are several questions that interest me more that I am working on answers for.
    – user111
    Commented Mar 5, 2017 at 18:06
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    "the real proof" is in what I assume (the link is broken) is an article from the BBC? What on earth could make that article so authoritative as to be considered "proof" of an interpretation of a poem?
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Aug 24, 2017 at 0:16

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