Dylan Thomas Helps Me Test a New Mic

Yeah, ole Dylan is a helpful guy, isn’t he? I mentioned this poem in the last post as we were learning about villanelles in the library workshop this week. And this oft read, oft quoted piece was the prime example of how to write one that stays exactly to the form, yet finds a way to do so cleverly.

I was experimenting here with a new microphone, a gift from my kind friend Rainer who has toyed with my voice before, laying down beats and tracks with some of my previously noisy recordings. I made no audio adjustments made here after the fact, no upping the bass, no noise reduction, merely the clipping off of silence at the beginning and end. I wanted to see what could happen organically with it and I am overjoyed.

As for Dylan’s villanelle, though this is the most rigid of the three examples that we studied, he provides a great deal of variation in how the repeated phrases are used. It’s mostly managed subtly by punctuation which helps differentiate whether the repeated lines are spoken as commands, descriptions, or in the final lines, an outright plea to his dying father not to give himself up to death quietly.

A lot of traditional readings of this seem to focus chiefly on the meter. In this recording experiment I was attempting to honor the meter, while using the poet’s punctuation as guidelines to keep me from breaking up the sense of the sentences. It sounds a tad emotional, but then it’s hard to rage quietly. I hoped, however to avoid jumping the shark when it comes to the drama.

Mostly this is an experiment and learning experience for me more than anything else. Please let me know your thoughts.

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 grieve 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 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.

©1937 by Dylan Thomas

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11 thoughts on “Dylan Thomas Helps Me Test a New Mic

  1. Pingback: Do Not Go Gentle Into That Goodnight | The Dad Poet

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