Dylan Thomas’s Poem Fern Hill: Young Man's Struggle in Accepting Aging and Death

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Fern Hill: Dylan Thomas walk down Memory Lane

Dylan Thomas Fern Hill can be interpreted as mans biggest desire to be a child once again. In Fern Hill, the writer talks about the glorious days of his youth and also his struggles with accepting old age and death. In this poem, the writer takes the reader along on a detailed exploration of his childhood memories. The struggle to accept and respect times rhythms and cycles, turns and limits, can affect everyone, as indicated by this poem. Thomas explains the bitter feelings of reality finally hitting you and causing you to realize that the carefree childhood must end through time and age. The writer realizes that his childhood is gone, and that he can only look forward to growing old and dying now. Feeling the loss of his precious childhood, he uses countless detailed examples to urge the readers to take into consideration the importance, and the true joy and happiness, of childhood. The readers are asked to cherish their childhood memories with the help of many literary techniques cleverly used in this poem, such as the usage of symbolism and imagery. The readers are able to feel his happiness throughout the journey through his memories. Readers also feel his struggle to understand why time can decide the length of his life.

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The first aspect of the poem to be talked about is the beautiful characteristics of childhood, as revealed by Thomas in his memories of childhood. As the poem begins, the readers see an aging man who is, possibly, turning bald. The writer shares with the readers the vision he sees in his mind of himself as a young boy on his familys farm. The writer, as a young boy, was green and carefree, famous among the barns (10) and had the trees and leaves/ trail with daisies and barley/ down the rivers of the windfall light (7-9). The readers see what he is thinking about, as if they were looking at the same picture book. They feel what he is feeling, as if they were real to both them and the writer. All their senses are motioned into the pleasures of this joyful time in the boys life.

The readers hear the sounds of the singing of the calves and the clear, cold barking of the foxes, as the writer plays his horn in his memories. The readers ense the lovely calmness of the Sabbath days that seemed to ring slowly in the pebbles of the holy streams (18). They are encouraged to visualize the hay fields high as the house (19-20); they hear the tunes from the chimneys (20). On hearing the writer describe his bedtime memories, the readers are swept away into their own memories of bedtime. The writers tells about owls bearing the farm away (24). An image of peaceful nights is brought forth with the nightjars/ flying with the ricks, and the horses/ flashing into the dark (25-28). A sense of harmony and admiration is called to the readers minds as the writer recalls awaking each morning to the sight of the farm. Each morning as he wakes up, the farm is white with the dew (29), the roosters are crowing and the horses are whinnying as they walk out of the stables onto the fields in the warm sun. Every new day was a new beginning for the young writer. In the sun that is young once only,/ Time let me play and be (12-13). By looking at memories of his carefree days of youth, readers know that his childhood was happy and complete. As he is recalling his younger days, he realizes that, as a child, he had no concept of time.

The writer stops describing the awe-inspiring days of his youth and brings the readers back to present reality. He suggests that he is now aged and is not only reminiscing, but is very concerned with the whole issue of aging and death.

Nothing I cared, in the lamb white days, that time would take me

Up to the swallow thronged loft by the shadow of my hand

In the moon that is always rising

Nor that riding to sleep

I should hear him fly with the high fields

And wake to the farm forever fled from the childless land. (46-51)

Although the writers vulnerability in his reflection of lifes rhythms is revealed in this poem, his final understanding of life is shown. As a boy, he believed that he would always be young and ran [his] heedless ways (40). The writer now knows that the reality of life is that life is all too short, especially the brief days of youth, and that is the only way he must accept it. The last three lines of the poem bring us to the distressing reality of the joys and sadness of life. Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means, time held me green and dying though I sand in my chains like the sea (52-54). The writer explains that all good things for all people must come to an end, and when they do, everyone will look back on the times that they had and wish that it could be that way forever.

Dylan Thomas cleverly uses a series of effective literary techniques, and also, a beautiful flow of the stanzas, in describing the many memories of the childhood. Long lines of free verse are used to enhance the writers recollection of carefree, joyful youth, as well as the writers suggestion of an open-minded acceptance of the rhythms of time. Like a song, each stanza has nine lines, a similar meter, and repeated phrases. The second stanza is a mirrored reflection of the first stanza, having the similar phrases and words. The use of the phrases time let me and golden in the is seen again in the parallel lines of the second stanza. The opening of the poem, as I was young and easy, is also repeated in the last stanza, showing the writers thoughts to come to a conclusion, where he makes his final comment about accepting times natural rhythms.

Besides the lyrical style of Thomas being beautiful, the imagery in this poem is also very beautifully used. Thomas uses numerous images to describe the farm and his feelings, and many are often repeated in the poem. Words such as lordly, honored, prince, huntsmen and herdsmen are used to describe his feelings of superiority on the farm. Images like prince of appletowns, famous among the barns, honored among wagons and foxes and peasants give the readers a taste of the joyful and carefree games of childhood.

The use of symbolism is evident in Fern Hill. Light is a major theme in this poem. There are many times, in this poem, where Thomas uses the suns light as a sign of the freshness of life. All the sun long it was running, it was lovely, the hay/ Fields high as the house, the tunes from the chimneys, it was air/ and playing, lovely and watery/ and fire green as grass (19-22). In the writers immature eyes, he saw daylight as a sign of the beginning of a new day just waiting to be explored. And then to awake

The sky gathered again/ and the sun grew round that very day./ So it must have been after the birth of the simple light (28-33). To the writer, light is a necessity of life. In contrast, night, compared to light, takes a different meaning in the poem. Night is used to symbolize death, or the death of another day.

An example showing the beauty of childhood is represented as memories of the writers childhood are spilled out to the readers. The writer recalls his carefree boyhood, as each line is full of memories. As a child, each day was a new adventure, and the writer did not understand that as each day came by, he had less and less time to live. There is a sense of joy at the beginning of this poem; the writer is singing and playing on this farm of many treasures. Yet, amidst this enjoyable memory is a sense of sadness as we realize youth, and all its joy that comes with it, does not last forever. The writer realizes he can never be a child again, and so, as an adult, he finally realizes the value and importance of childhood and all its joys and happiness. The writer knows that time decides when his death is and that the only thing he can do now is to sit back and wait. This poem helps readers to recognize the struggle to accept life as it is along with its boundaries and limits, and time cycles and rhythms, and to appreciate the joys and sadness of life. After exploring the writers memories with him in this poem, readers learn, through their own memories, to cherish the joys. Readers also acknowledge the sadness of it not being there anymore. So, by knowing both, readers are taught the importance of each and every day of their lives.

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