Study Guide

Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night Transience

By Dylan Thomas

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Transience in "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night" causes the speaker a lot of anxiety. It worries him that there are things people might have been able to do in the world if only they had been here longer. It bothers him that the sun travels so quickly across the sky and that people live such a short time. But even though transience is disturbing, it also creates opportunities for beauty.

Questions About Transience

  1. Many different types of things pass away in this poem – daylight, meteors, and lightning strikes, but also men, their words, and their deeds. Given the way the speaker presents the world, is there anything that persists, lasts, or can't be destroyed? If so, what is it?
  2. Why are lightning and meteors used as metaphors for the words and deeds of men?
  3. In line 4, the speaker tells us that "wise men at their end know dark is right." Does this mean that passing away is the proper thing to do, the natural order of things? Or does it simply mean that death and change have triumphed over life and stability?

Chew on This

The tragedy of "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night" is that nothing can last – neither nature, with her sunrise and sunset, nor man, with his "frail deeds," can ever create anything permanent.

Even though most of the things described in the poem are subject to the ravages of time, there is one thing that lasts – the power of man's words, which persist even after the speaker is gone.

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