This paper discusses Dylan Thomas’ “Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night”, which has been called the finest villanelle ever written.
This paper explains that the phrase “the sad height” from Dylan Thomas’ “Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night” is often incorrectly suggested to be a bier; but, for Thomas to advise his father not to “go gentle” if he were already dead would be redundant; which is not a hallmark of Dylan Thomas. The author points out that Thomas’ emotion must be fierce and objective. The paper reports that the father is invited by his son to curse the imminent loss of his own life; and, in so fighting death, he will incidentally approve his son’s life.
From the Paper:
“And finally, what sense can the bier interpretation make of the word “the” in “the sad height”? The definite article immediately suggests a single and integral meaning for “the sad height,” as in “the sky,” and it could only have such a meaning if the phrase had a familiar conventional or metaphorical meaning, such as “the daily grind,” which means “job, ” or “at the end of the day,” which means “final analysis.” Perhaps part of the haunting power of the phrase derives from the fact that it seems as if it had a familiar or conventional meaning. One might be tempted to try a non literal interpretation, noting how here Thomas perhaps turned to the Bible for imagery and allusion.”