We often think of wise people as calm, cool, and collected, but in "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night," wisdom means a determination to struggle. Even if the struggle isn't pretty, even if it means ranting, raving, crying, screaming, and pounding your fists on the floor, the speaker believes that is more dignified than simply lying down and giving in to fate.
Questions About Wisdom and Knowledge
When the speaker first refers to "wise men," he tells us "their words had forked no lightning" (line 5). What kind of "words" do you think the speaker is describing?
In the fourth stanza, the speaker describes the chagrin of the "wild men" who thought they were celebrating the sun's "flight," not realizing how quickly it would set. Why does their knowledge of the rapid nature of the "sunset," or their impending death, change the way they celebrate the "sun," or life? In other words, why does the knowledge of death change how we feel about life?
Why does the speaker think his father should "curse" and "bless" his son, as the elder is dying?
Chew on This
The knowledge of life's brevity makes the speaker of "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night" feel a tragic sense of loss, even as he's beholding the beautiful aspects of the world.