Hear Dylan Thomas Recite His Classic Poem, “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night”

When Dylan Thomas was a lit­tle boy his father would read Shake­speare to him at bed­time. The boy loved the sound of the words, even if he was too young to under­stand the mean­ing. His father, David John Thomas, taught Eng­lish at a gram­mar school in south­ern Wales but want­ed to be a poet. He was bit­ter­ly dis­ap­point­ed with his sta­tion in life.

Many years lat­er when the father lay on his deathbed, Dylan Thomas wrote a poem that cap­tures the pro­found sense of empa­thy he felt for the dying old man. The poem, “Do not go gen­tle into that good night,” was writ­ten in 1951, only two years before the poet­’s own untime­ly death at the age of 39. Despite the impos­si­bil­i­ty of escap­ing death, the anguished son implores his father to “Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

The poem is a beau­ti­ful exam­ple of the vil­lanelle form, which fea­tures two rhymes and two alter­nat­ing refrains in verse arranged into five ter­cets, or three-lined stan­zas, and a con­clud­ing qua­train in which the two refrains are brought togeth­er as a cou­plet at the very end. You can hear Thomas’s famous 1952 recital of the poem above. To see the poem’s struc­ture and read along as you lis­ten, click here to open the text in a new win­dow.

And to hear more of Thomas recit­ing his own works (and more), please vis­it our pri­or post 8 Glo­ri­ous Hours of Dylan Thomas Read­ing Poetry–His Own & Oth­ers’.

All poems have been added to our col­lec­tion of Free Audio Books.

Note: an ear­li­er ver­sion of this post orig­i­nal­ly appeared on our site in August 2012.

Relat­ed con­tent:

Antho­ny Hop­kins Reads ‘Do Not Go Gen­tle into That Good Night’

Hear Dylan Thomas Read Three Poems by W.H. Auden, Includ­ing “Sep­tem­ber 1, 1939”

by | Permalink | Comments (1) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.