How literary rage arms us with a private arsenal to fight the battles that a mob cannot

Pixabay What is it about rage that makes it a necessary emotion? A cleansing, fierce, tumultuous necessity? Temper is capricious, it could even be peevish. Anger is, well, anger; even the word seems more docile and well-behaved than “rage”, there’s something tight-lipped and cold about it. And no matter how many dictionaries suggest that rage is just another handy synonym for anything ranging from a tantrum to a riot, I’d say rage stands alone – a flame, a force, irresistible to writers and poets seeking a place where their furies can be matched by a word large enough, furious enough and yes, strong enough. When Dylan Thomas wrote Do not go gentle into that good night (1951) he gave mourning an atmospheric so electric, it ceased to be mourning and turned instead into a rallying cry, a rousing hymnal. Wise men, good men, wild men, grave men, he exhorts all of them to “Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” To behave contrary to conventional wisdom, not accept death meekly, and believe that “Old age should burn and rave at close of day”. In the closing stanza where he directly addresses his father, sorrow bursts through, and yet, […]

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