Time in Thomas’ Fern Hill and Cummings’ anyone lived in a pretty how town

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"Historically speaking,…time is lost; poetically speaking,…time is regained in the act of visionary creation" (Crewe 400). Poetry allows for the capture of a moment in time otherwise lost in the blink of an eye. British poet Dylan Thomas and American poet E.E. Cummings have both been noted for the recurring themes of passage of time in their poetry. In Thomas’ "Fern Hill" and Cummings’ "anyone lived in a pretty how town," both modern poets utilize a juxtaposition of paradoxes to express the irrevocable passage of time and the loss of innocence attributed to it. While Thomas projects his mature feelings into a nostalgic site of his childhood, Cummings takes a more detached approach by telling a seemingly trivial, paradoxical story of "noone" and "anyone," which through negation tells a universal life story.

"Fern Hill" is a personal account, Thomas’ nostalgic revisit to a place where as a child he had spent time with his aunt. Through this sentimental revisit, he comes to realize the inevitable passage of time and a resulting loss of innocence. The poem was actually triggered by his visits to Fern Hill as an adult during a time of war. After Thomas’s hometown Swansea in Wales was bombed by the Nazi air campaign against Great Britain, Thomas’ parents moved out to their cottage near the farm of Fernhill. "[Thomas’] visits to his parents during the war triggered the memories of the happy Edenic times when he was young and thoughts of war were still distant" (Miller 99). In this poem, he revisits both his own childhood, and ,symbolically, the childhood and prewar innocence of his country.

"Anyone lived in a pretty how town," is less personal. A love story made trivial

through the use of "noone" and "anyone," this poem plays ...

... middle of paper ...

...icking of the social clock becomes almost deafening.

Works Cited

Cox, C.B. "Dylan Thomas’s ‘Fern Hill’." The Critical Quarterly. 1 (1959): 134-38.

Crewe, J.V. "The Poetry of Dylan Thomas." Theoria. Pietermaritzburg, Vol.XXXVIII 1972: 65-83.

Davidow, Mary C. "Journey from Apple Orchard to Swallow Thronged Loft: ‘Fern Hill’." English Journal 58 (1969): 78-81.

Kidder, Rushworth M. E.E. Cummings: An Introduction to the Poetry. New York: Columbia University Press, 1979.

Miller, Tyrus. "Essay for Poetry for Students." Gale (1998).

Rotella, Guy. "Nature, Time, and Transcendence in Cummings’ Later poems." Critical Essays on E.E. Cummings G.K. Hall & Co., 1984. 283-302.

Turco, Lewis. "Anyone Lived in a Pretty How Town." Masterplots II.

Wegner, Robert E. The Poetry and Prose of E.E. Cummings. New York: Hartcourt, Brace & World, Inc., 1965.

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