Do not go gentle into that good night

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"Do not go gentle into that good night" is 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.[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]

This poem provides inspiration and motivation to Cassia Reyes, the main character of Ally Condie's dystopia novel titled, 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 Lord Alfred Tennyson and this poem by Dylan Thomas.[5]

The Doctor, played by David Tennant, quotes the famous line "Rage, rage against the dying light" in the BBC television show Doctor Who. The quote appears in Series 3, Episode 2, entitled "The Shakespeare Code". [6]

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.[7]

Michael Caine reads some of the poem in the full trailer for the 2014 film Interstellar.

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."


  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. ^ Condie, Ally (2010). Matched. Dutton Juvenile. ISBN 9780142419779. 
  6. ^ "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.
  7. ^ Hurts (July 21, 2013). "Somebody to Die For". Somebody to Die For. MTV UK. Retrieved May 28, 2014. 

External links[edit]