after Dylan Thomas

Let me go gentle into that dark night
Let me not rage against the dying light
There is another light that beckons me
That from this garish light will set me free
It softly glows and grows on that far side
I hear a hymn that sings with me abide
Let me go gentle into that dark night

I will not rage against the close of day
Let me be like a glowing sunset, pray
Sending colours of every rainbow hue
From brightest red up to the deepest blue
Let me learn from the deathbed of the sun
To leave the light and from its brightness run
Let me go gentle at the close of day.

Now, loved ones, let me wish you fond farewell
The time is right; I hear the tolling bell
It’s not a knell it has a happy ring
Like Christmas bells and voices carolling
My heart towards that call is rushing now
I’ve lived my life; please let me take that bow
And let me gently wish you all farewell.

 

 

Rohini Sunderam is a Canadian of Indian origin. She is a semi-retired advertising copywriter whose articles and stories have appeared in The Statesman, Calcutta, India, The Globe & Mail, Canada, and The Halifax Chronicle Herald, Nova Scotia, Canada in addition to several Bahrain-based publications. As Zohra Saeed, she is the author of Desert Flower (Publisher: Ex-L-Ence Publishing UK). She was a contributor to the anthology My Beautiful Bahrain (Publisher: Miracle Publishing, Bahrain), More of My Beautiful Bahrain & Poetic Bahrain, (Robin Barratt Publishing UK), Corpoetry – a collection of poems satirising corporate life (Publisher: Ex-L-Ence Publishing).


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18 Responses

  1. Monty

    That’s a good concept for a poem, Rohini: I s’pose there’s just as equal a case for going gently as there is for not going gently. It depends on the individual, one might think; and the circumstances at the time.

    If I was to ask why you decided to put a full-stop at the end of line 14, you might reply: “I felt that a full-stop is warranted in that place”. To which I’d reply: “Yeah, it IS warranted in that place, but if you decided to put one there, why didn’t you put one in all the other places (at least 10) in which they’re clearly warranted?”.

    Apart from said full-stop, and one comma . . there’s no punctuation in the first 14 lines! Hence, your effectively asking others to read the first 14 lines as one sentence. It can’t be like that; unless the first 14 lines were written as one sentence.. which they’re obviously not. There are at least 6 sentences in those 14 lines.

    It’s a similar thing in the last stanza – from the first semi-colon to the second, it reads prosodically as: “I hear the tolling bell it’s not a knell it has a happy ring like Christmas bells and voices carolling my heart towards that call is rushing now I’ve lived my life”. What is a reader to make of that if you don’t indicate where they should pause?

    But you don’t have to listen to me: listen to this . . In your piece above, 2 lines out of 21 have got a punctuation-mark at the end of a line; in Thomas’s piece, 16 lines out of 19 have got a punctuation-mark at the end of a line. Listen to him!

    For me, Rohini, it patently detracts from what is otherwise a well-written poem, with fluid diction and consistent rhymes throughout . . all within the discipline of 10 syllables per line. And it’s a detraction which could be so easily rectified.

    Reply
    • Rohini Sunderam

      Good points Monty. I need to look at that punctuation again. Thank you for pointing it out. Initially I thought I just needed a full stop at the end of each verse. The first missed stop was an oversight.

      Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      Monty, your comments, as always, were astute. The punctuation was atrocious, and I hope never to see a poem from any of the commenters who failed to recognize this. Perhaps the only good line in the whole poem was:

      Let me learn from the deathbed of the sun

      though, even here, the meter is out of kilter, but Dylan Thomas himself was never a stickler for meter. Yikes! What are we to make of this? Is this the new world we’ve created, a place where nothing makes any sense?

      Reply
  2. Julian D. Woodruff

    Am I reading this right? Is all this to say, “It’s my life. Why shouldn’t I leave it whenever I wish”? If so, it’s a death in life attitude, a poetic pall of hopelessness that should make one shudder.

    Reply
    • Monty

      To answer your initial question: No, I don’t believe you ARE reading it right. To me, it’s not asking: “It’s my life: why shouldn’t I leave it whenever I wish?”. It’s simply saying that when the time comes – as it must for us all – then the author/narrator will (when on her deathbed, as mentioned in L12) accept the inevitable without remorse, without complaint . . and go gently into that night. There’s logic in that.

      In his piece, Thomas was urging his father (who was slowly dying) to do the opposite; to fight death, to defy death, to maintain the will to live. There’s logic in that also.

      But either way, I fail to see how you’ve somehow interpreted it to mean that the author/narrator is trying to justify thoughts of suicide or euthanasia.

      Reply
    • Rohini Sunderam

      No, it is just a plea to let me go when I am ready. Monty has received it as intended, a counter argument to Dylan Thomas’ Do No Go Gentle…

      Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      Julian, even if it does not make one shudder, it should make one wonder how we have come to this place. Life is a gift, not an onerous burden, and who are we to shuffle such a gift into the midden of discarded refuse?

      Reply
    • Rohini Sunderam

      No, it is just a plea to let me go when I am ready. Monty has received it as intended, a counter argument to Dylan Thomas’ Do No Go Gentle…

      Reply
  3. Christina

    Beautiful, Robini! For me lines 3 to 5 say it all. The echo of Newman’s oft-sung hymn ‘Abide with me’ is lovely, but I would put an upper case ‘M’, as I read this call as coming down instead of going up! Interpretation will, of courrse, depend on whether the reader believes death to be a beginning or an end.

    This poem flowed perfectly for me, so I didn’t notice the punctuation omissions that Monty has commented on. Thank you for this entry. I love it.

    Reply
      • Christina

        Apologies for getting your name wrong. My sight is v bad and h and b look the same to me!

    • C.B. Anderson

      Christina, if you believe everything you wrote is true, then you have no business commenting on the elements of formal structures. Go back to knitting and learn therefrom what happens when you miss a stitch.

      Reply
      • Christina

        Mr. Anderson, I am not aware that I have commented anywhere on the ‘elements of formal structures’, and I do not understand what you mean by this comment, which I would ignore, were it not for its gratuitous, patromising and sexist rudeness. Another poster has recently commented at length on your ego, and here you give evidence of both an oversized ego and breathtaking arrogance.

        I was fortunate to have been educated (in England) in the days when children were exposed to classical poetry from primary school onward. They had poetry read to them for enjoyment and recited it, and thereby acquired a natural sense of rhyme and rhythn long before the matter of scansion raised its head for formal examination purposes.

        Before you were born I had learned to love poetry, and whether it was in classical Latin, middle English, modern English or Romance languages, knowledge of the appropriate formal structures, or the ‘nuts and bolts’ of poetry, added nothing to my understanding or enjoyment of it. Were I a poet, such knowledge might be essential, but I am merely a reader, and one for whom a poem such as Rohini’s leads to a sort of meditation into which ideas beyond those of the poet’s own intent are assimilated. Lamartine’s ‘Méditations Poétiques’ much impressed me in my student  days and gave me a particular love of poetry with ‘meditative potential’. Surely a society such as the SCP can  accommodate all lovers of classical poetry no matter how they approach and experience it.

        Finally, Mr. Anderson, if you must insult a woman with the suggestion that she return to her knittimg (a craft in which many men excel), then learn the difference between a missed stitch and a dropped one

  4. Parvinder Kaur

    You have your way with words Rohini, and I’ve always only learnt from them. Beautiful piece. Congratulations

    Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      Parvinder, I suspect that English is not your first language. It’s not your fault.

      Reply
  5. C.B. Anderson

    Christina, there’s no need to hide behind your sex. You might as well call me a racist. Either way, I don’t care. Some things are true whether or not they fit the profile of political correctness. Bad diction, bad grammar, bad sentence structure and bad punctuation are bad no matter how noble the intentions of an author. I see that you are a forgiving sort, which, in my mind, is a good thing, but only up to a point. I do not knit, and I thank you for pointing out that there’s a difference between a missed stitch and a dropped one. But I fear that such liberalism of thought (earlier presented) will likely spell the end of the United Kingdom as it has been known for centuries. The stiff upper lip is a thing of the past, and English formal poetry might die in England, just a s it was born there. Your comments, by the way, were much better than the poem that elicited them.

    Reply

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