Do not go gentle into that good night
May 14, 2020 2:52 AM   Subscribe

The Story Behind Dylan Thomas’s “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” and the Poet’s Own Stirring Reading of His Masterpiece Written in 1947, Thomas’s masterpiece was published for the first time in the Italian literary journal Botteghe Oscure in 1951 and soon included in his 1952 poetry collection In Country Sleep, And Other Poems.

By the mid-1940s, having just survived World War II, Thomas, his wife, and their newborn daughter were living in barely survivable penury. In the hope of securing a steady income, Thomas agreed to write and record a series of broadcasts for the BBC. His sonorous voice enchanted the radio public. Between 1945 and 1948, he was commissioned to make more than one hundred such broadcasts, ranging from poetry readings to literary discussions and cultural critiques — work that precipitated a surge of opportunities for Thomas and adrenalized his career as a poet.

At the height of his radio celebrity, Thomas began working on “Do not go gentle into that good night.” Perhaps because his broadcasting experience had attuned his inner ear to his outer ear and instilled in him an even keener sense of the rhythmic sonority of the spoken word, he wrote a poem tenfold more powerful when channeled through the human voice than when read in the contemplative silence of the mind’s eye.
posted by dancestoblue (4 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
He was too young to die.
posted by lungtaworld at 4:51 AM on May 14, 2020

When I was 14, the youth-group follies was Christmas themed. For one skit, the director wanted me to read "A Child's Christmas in Wales". (not sure why they wanted the chubby nerd to read, rather than the Real Actors among the older kids...)

I resisted - it didn't really scan on the page to that dumb kid I was; but Mr. Kavanaugh sat me down with a recording of Thomas reading his own words.

Powerful stuff - what a difference the medium makes! With that original recording as my source, my resistance melted, and I received not a few compliments on my performance from older folks.

Thanks for this! Need to dig in.
posted by notsnot at 5:56 AM on May 14, 2020 [2 favorites]

This is interesting on so many levels. After having written and deleted several attempts at a comment, I give up, and will just say thanks for posting this.
posted by mumimor at 5:09 PM on May 14, 2020

Imma gonna leave this reading of the poem by Rodney Dangerfield here.
posted by jadepearl at 5:52 PM on May 15, 2020

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