Dylan Thomas's poem "Fern Hill" represents the passage of one mans life from boyhood to adulthood and the realization of his mortality. The speaker in this poem uses expressive language and imagery to depict a tale of growing up. The use of colour adds life and character to people and abstract ideas. He looks up to
"Time" (313) as an authority figure who has strict control of his life, and with descriptions of biblical figures we can presume that he is a religious person who believes that God is in control of his destiny. Each of these images contributes to a picture of one man's outlook on life and death.
Colour imagery is used in the beginning of the poem as the speaker describes his happiness as a child. He explains his young days as being as "happy as the grass is green" (313), or in other words, alive and healthy. He then directly refers himself to being "green and carefree" (313). As a young boy he was vibrant and full of life. Being full of life, like "green grass" (313), means that there is a natural course that life has to follow, birth to death. Anything living has a purpose in life and the speaker reflects his young days as a "Huntsman and Herdsman" (313).
The poem takes a dramatic turn when he describes "fire as green as grass" (313). Fire or burning paired with grass means that something destructive has occurred in the speaker's young life that has changed or altered the course of his natural growth. He is an adult when he looks back and says "before the children green" (314). He had gained an understanding that his life is running out and says time held me "green and dying" (313). He is seeing his "green" (314) life turning brown and wilting. He i...
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...ruit. Life changing events would alter a child's perspective of himself.
"Fern Hill" is a poem about the realization of life and mortality that appears after an unexpected experience occurs. The speaker is moved to a greater wisdom about himself and the world around him. He realizes that the immortality he felt as a child was merely a step towards the unyielding movement of life towards death. Through the use of colour, time, and religious language readers develop an understanding for the speaker's emotions, beliefs, and passage through life.
Orser, Sandi. ENGL 1155 (01): Introduction to Literature: Gender and Form.
MSVU. January 2005.
Thomas, Dylan. "Fern Hill." The Harbrace Anthology of Literature. Ed. Jon C. Stott,
Raymond E. Jones, and Rick Bower. 3rd ed. Toronto: Nelson-Thomson, 2002.
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