Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night

February 27, 2009

Sunday is St David’s Day which made the choice of a Welsh poet the logical choice for this Friday’s poem.

That of course led me to  Dylan Thomas  and the only one of his works I could find in any of my poetry books was Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night.

It was Owen Marshall’s choice in Dear to Me 100 New Zealander write about their favourite poems, published by Random House  as a fund raising project by Amnesty International.

Writing about his choice, Marshall said he’d have preferred his favourite :

wasn’t as conventionally popular as this . . . nevertheless I cannot deny the power I find in this poem. that emotional power, and the theme which it drives, are almost entire within the first three-line stanza. And what a stroke of genius to use the adjective, gentle, rather than the expected adverb.

Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night

 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 you, my father, there on that 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.

                –      Dylan Thomas    –


Ozyymandias

August 29, 2008

I had something else in mind for this Friday’s poem but the events of the last couple of days meant I couldn’t go past Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley.

It is one of the poems in Dear To Me, 100 New Zealanders write about their favourite poems and published by Random House as an Anmesty International fundraiser.

By serendipitous conincidence it was the choice of Sir Robert Jones who said:

The reason why I like it is that it sums up so well the misplaced grandiose egotism of rulers, be they elected prime minsiters or tyrants, and their craving for permanent legacy after their inevitable demise.

It is an illogical aspiration: once dead, however, they’re viewed is utterly irrelevant to them as they’ll never know. That reality doesn’t stop retired prime minsiters wasting their remaining years writing memoirs which they hope will preserve their place and perceived importance in history.

Ozymandias demonstrates the futility of such aspirations and the inevitable denouement for us all of reduction to dust.

                Ozymandias

 I met a traveller from an antique land

Who said: Two cast and trunkless legs of stone

Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,

Half sunk, a shater’d visage lies, whose frown

And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read

Which yet survive, stamp’d on these lifeless things,

The hand that mock’d them and the heart that fed;

And on the pedestal these words appear:

‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:

Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,

The lone and level sands stretch far away.

 

        Percy Bysshe Shelley –


On the Swag

August 8, 2008

I came across this Friday’s poem in Dear To Me 100 New Zealanders write about their favourite poems, a fundraising project for Amnesty International.

 

On the Swag was chosen by Sir Doug Graham because, he said, “it reinforces and indeed won’t let us forget, that one of the most fundamental duties we all have is to put out a helping hand to those in need”.

 

 

On the Swag

 

His body doubled

       under the pack

       that sprawls untidily

       on his old back

       the cold wet dead-beat

       plods up the track.

 

The cook peers out

       ‘oh curse that old lag –

        here again

        with his clumsy swag

        made of a dirty old

        turnip bag’

 

‘Bring him in cook

        from the grey level sleet

        put silk on his body

        slippers on his feet,

        give him fire

        and bread and meat.

 

‘Let the fruit be plucked

        and the cake be iced,

        the bed be snug

        and the wine be spiced

        in the old cove’s night-cap:

        for this is Christ.’

 

– R.A.K. Mason –


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