we need the fury of berserkers

Dylan Thomas’ famous villanelle
with its four repetitions each of the lines:
“Do not go gentle into that good night,”
and “Rage, rage against the dying of the light,”

is typically (and appropriately) read
as both advise to his dying father
and as expression of his own fear of dying.

Either way, it is taken very personally—
very individualistically,

and christians wrestle
with how to understand raging at death
in light of their faith
and in light of the poet’s faith.

Now that’s a good conversation
in which to engage,

but I wonder
if we might also hear the poem
just as personally,
just not as individualistically,
and hear in it—
hear it as—
a wish, a prayer—
as advice—even expectation—
an inspiring challenge, a rousing battle cry
for those whose wrath is focused
less on individuals—even circumstances
as patterns of being—
for those who reject and denounce comfortable apathy,
who do not go gentle into the way things are—
who rage, rage against the dying of the light
that is our culture’s sad status quo—
for those whose fury
is our hope.

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