Rage, rage against the dying of the light… My way.

So a friend recently posted this Dylan Thomas poem (“Do not go gentle into the good night, rage, rage against the dying of the light”) which I believe Thomas wrote when his father was facing death.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

[How… tiring.]

Though wise men at their end know dark is right, …
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

[So… he was advising his father to not accept that “dark is right”? Because his life had been in vain, “their words had forked no lightning” so they should not go gentle into the good night… because their lives (his father’s life) have been wasted?]

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

[Regrets, I had a few…]

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

[So good men regretted not dancing, while wild men realised… they have wasted it all away?]

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

[And grave men should have been less grave and been more… gay?]

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.

[In response, I say or sing:

“And now, the end is near
And so I face the final curtain
My friend, I’ll say it clear
I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain
I’ve lived a life that’s full
I traveled each and ev’ry highway
And more, much more than this, I did it my way

Regrets, I’ve had a few
But then again, too few to mention
I did what I had to do , I saw it through without exception
I planned each charted course, each careful step along the highway
And more, much more than this, I did it my way

Yes, there were times, I’m sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew
And through it all, when there was doubt
I ate it up and spat it out
I faced it all and I stood tall and did it my way

I’ve loved, I’ve laughed and cried
I’ve had my fill, my share of losing
And now, as tears subside, I find it all so amusing
To think I did all that
And may I say, not in a shy way,
“Oh, no, oh, no, not me, I did it my way”

For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught
The right to say the things he feels
and not the words of one who kneels
The record shows
I took the blows
and did it my way!”

I used to think the Thomas’s poem was poignant. That a son would grieve for his father so, should want for his father to rage rage against the dying of the light.

Until I lost my father.

And then, no.

He had raged against the dying of the light. And I saw how much energy that took him and how much pain that caused him.

Sure he still had reason to live. He had 9 grandchildren by then, but there was one more on the way. I had not yet married, and yes, one of my regrets is that he did not meet my wife.

But life goes on. It always goes on. There is never a good time to die. There will always be one more thing to do, one more thing to see. One more experience to experience. One more reason to rage against the dying of the light.

And we will all have regrets. No one who lives can die without regrets. What if I had done that instead of this. What if I had chosen that instead of this. What if  I had taken that path instead of this.

What if I could have just one more day.

I now see Thomas’s poem as selfish. It was a loss he could not bear. It was a pain he did not want to experience. So he asked his father to rage rage against the dying of the light. Instead of letting him go gentle into the good night.

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