Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night

Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night Study Guide

Dylan Thomas, who lived from 1914 to 1953 and was born in Swansea, Wales, is Wales’s most famous poet, a modernist poet whose writing also exhibited romanticist tendencies. “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night,” written in 1947, is Thomas’s most famous work as well as one of the most famous examples of a villanelle, a poem that consists of five stanzas of three lines concluded by a single stanza of four lines. In keeping with the villanelle form, there are two refrains—the first and third lines—which repeat alternately until the last stanza, where both appear to close out the poem. The poem follows the rhyme scheme ABA ABA ABA ABA ABA ABAA. It is technically untitled, but popularly known by its first line.

“Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night” is believed to be inspired by the sickness and eventual death of Thomas’s father, though he didn’t pass away until the end of 1952. Tragically, Thomas himself died after a night of heavy drinking less than a year later. “The only person I can't show [it] to is, of course, my father, who doesn't know he's dying," wrote Thomas in a letter.