A Quarrel With Dylan Thomas
©2012 Kirby Sanders
Do not go gentle into that good night? Do tell, please sir – why not?
I understand, sir, that you are speaking in villanelle – wherein the structure of the poem is almost of greater importance than the content, but why “rage, rage against the dying of the light”?
It seems to me that a reasonable man, after a long metaphorical and metaphysical “day” might welcome his eventual rest. As you well put it yourself, sir, “men at their end know dark is right”.
You speak of men whose “words had forked no lightning” – but what of those whose words have indeed forked lightning? You speak of men “crying how bright their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay” but what of those whose deeds have indeed danced in every green bay they came across?
You speak of “Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight and learn, too late, they grieved it on its way” – but what of those who caught and sang and whose hands were burned and scarred in the process? Whose voices were sometimes hoarse from raucous singing?
You speak of “Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight – blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay” but what of those whose eyes were not blinded in the moments they stared into the sun itself? Who celebrated the gaiety as it occurred?
Why should such men “Rage, rage against the dying of the light”? Why should they not “go gentle into that good night” – retaining dignity in the knowledge that they have lived to the best and fullest of their abilities?
Why not, at the end of the troublesome metaphorical and metaphysical “day”, just quietly put on your pajamas and gracefully go to sleep?
Sometimes I wonder about these things.