The father was at the brink of death. The poet was in pain, watching the pain of his father. “Do not go gentle into that good night” is a poem and a product of the pain. His name was Dylan Thomas.
The fixed verse that consists of 19 lines starts with “Do not go gentle into that good night” and repeats “Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” He says not to accept the night meekly just because the day is over. The day is a metaphor of life, and the night of death. Readers may wonder why he uses this metaphor at first, but the poem reveals that it is about the poet’s father. “And you, my father, there on the sad height,/ Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray./ Do not go gentle into that good night./ Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” The poem depicts a wish of a son who want’s his father to hold onto life.
Poems of the Wales-based poet are even more touching when they are read out by actor Anthony Hopkins from Wales. He was 50 when he read this poem. His sorrowful voice makes it even more sad. He brought up the poem again in front of the grave of his father at the age of 84 in April 2021. But the recitation was not perfect this time. “It’s too painful,” he said. He was not able to finish reading it. He uploaded a video of himself on Twitter. A few hours later, he heard that he won the Academy Award for best actor in a leading role. Ironically, he played an old man with Alzheimer in film “The Father.” The father he played and the father in the poem are all our father. Our father who endures sickness and eventually leaves us. Sometimes art, may that be a poem or a film, is a record of painful memories. It is how we grieve a loss.