Do not go gentle into that good night…

WARNING: Philosophy in progress




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 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.

-Dylan Thomas

I have been thinking a lot about death lately. It is hardly surprising: I have suffered a great deal of loss this year, with Ben’s aunt Flossy dying last Boxing day, then his beloved dog Laura in April. Soon after my birthday, in May, I lost the last of my grandparents: my dad flew over from Dubai to bury his mother. I was too upset to even write a coherent tribute post for that particular loss.

Then last week, I heard the sudden, unexpected and painful news that Janet McCleery, the singing teacher that set me on the road of beautiful musicianship, had passed away in her sleep.

I heard from someone at Ardingly (one of the several places in Sussex that she taught organ and singing) that Janet was discovered when she did not turn up for an engagement, and the person involved called the police. Quite a testament to her reliability. Apparently, they broke into the house and found her in bed, seemingly having died in her sleep – a lovely peaceful way for her to go, but shocking for everyone else; especially as she was not that old either (67).

I went to her Requiem Mass held at Worth Church in Sussex just yesterday morning. I found the majority of the service to be sadly unmoving: the priest talked at length about Janet’s religious faith (which I never once discussed with Janet in the many years I knew her) but only mentioned her incredible musicality once (which was, in my eyes, the driving force of her life).

Please, don’t get me wrong: I may be an atheist, but I am a non-aggressive atheist. I don’t mind religion. People can believe what they want to believe. However, I think it is frankly quite insulting that priest was given so much space to say so much about so little. A large percentage of the congregation (myself included) chose not to step up for Communion or even a blessing, illustrating that they were not their for the religion, but there to celebrate the life of a wonderful, humble, caring, devoted, talented and inspiring woman.

It was only when the choir sang Fauré’s “In Paradisum” and Michael Oakley (head of music at Worth school) made an impassioned, moving, and personal speech in memory of Janet, that I truly felt moved. I admire Michael greatly for pushing on with his words of tribute for this wonderful woman, despite the fact that he was obviously struggling with emotion.

I am sorry that I didn’t see her all that often in recent years. I can’t remember the last time I spoke to her, but it will have been many months, if not a year or two. That fact pains me greatly: she was a huge, positive influence in my life.

Rest in peace, Janet. You live on in the many lives you touched, the many people you shared your music with, the many eager young musicians you trained.


2 thoughts on “Do not go gentle into that good night…

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Do not go gentle into that good night… « Unravelled --

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