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Fern Hill – Dylan Thomas Communication

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    Fern Hill – Dylan Thomas

    Look up euphony in several literary dictionaries and create your own definition for the term. Identify at least three passages in `Fern Hill` that you consider euphonious. Write several sentences about each, explaining how the poet achieved this effect.

    Euphony is the use of soft constants in several words that when placed together or are said together produce a pleasing or musical sound.  There are several incidents of euphony in Dylan Thomas’ “Fern Hill”.  In Line 15, “And green and golden I was huntsman and herdsman”, euphony is created by the alliteration of a the “g” sound followed by alliteration of the “h”.  Both are soft consonants that add to the flow and rhythmic tone of the line.  In line 19 – 21, “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”, euphony is created in a different way from above.

    Dylan uses words which end in soft sounds which give the lines a pleasant tone – running, lovely, hay, chimneys, playing, lovely, and watery.  All these words end “y” or “g” making the passage easy to say.  Additionally, Dylan specifically uses end letters which physically produce a smile when said.  In lines 37 – 39,  “In all his tuneful turning so few and such morning songs / Before the children green and golden / Follow him out of grace” euphony is established by both alliteration and soft end word consonants.  The repetition of “green and golden” throughout the poem creates a sense of unity and flow to the verse.  The alliteration of “t” and “g” create comfortable sounds to hear and say.  The “g” sound used as an end letter in the words “turning”, “morning”, “songs” creates a soft point of emphasis which works well with the rhythm of the poem.

    1. Do you think that Dylan Thomas` purpose in writing this poem was celebratory or cautionary? Based on your response, how would you express either its celebratory or cautionary view of time? To what extent do the poet`s ideas fit in with your own experience and observations? (P. 497)

    “Fern Hill” is poem in which Dylan Thomas is celebrating life.  This is a poem is about being “young and easy”.  Dylan uses simple descriptions and childish language to create a sense of youth and freedom.  For most of the poem the narrator is a child, and there are no adult overtones of cynicism.  The poem centers on Thomas’ idyllic memories of his childhood spent on a farm.  He fills the poem with childhood endeavors and fantasies like when he “rode to sleep the owls were bearing the farm away.”  The youthful feel of the poem is further supported by the free flowing wild verse that is not restrained by a traditional meter and rhyme scheme.  Thomas also repeats the word “green and golden” both descriptive words associated with new life and new beginnings.  In “Fern Hill” the optimism of youth obvious through sight and sound.  Thomas does a good job of recreating the feelings and experiences associated with childhood in which the real world ceases to exist and “time [has] let me play and be golden.”

    Thomas is quite clear in expressing that while time can not be saved it can be well used. Time must be cherished and enjoyed.  A child never considers time and therefore makes the best use of that time.  Thomas does not represent time as a cruel character but as gracious and patient host.  Time allows people to “hail and climb”, and “play and be”.  It is time the guides an individual through life into death.  Time “would take you [me]” by the “shadow of your [me] hand” into “the moon.”  It is time that holds an individual “green and dying.”  It is clear the Thomas’ intention was not for time to be represented as a  vicious accomplice to death but as a protector and guide that allows the celebration of life and  the easement of individuals into death.

    I believe that Thomas’ ideas of time fit well into my own experiences with life.  Until I read this poem I never consider that time was what kept me from death.  In my mind time and death went hand and hand.  They were partners.  The more I read “Fern Hill” I began to realize that time is my partner and together we ward off death until absolutely necessary.  Even as people die they are not alone.  Time is there to comfort them, to offer them memories of the past, and hope for the future for their love ones.

    How would you describe the predominant tone in the first stanza of `Fern Hill` ? Contrast this with the tone of the last three lines of the poem. Go though the poem stanza by stanza, identifying words and images that foreshadow the emotional closure which Thomas voices at the end. Do you think the poet has managed to successfully integrate the innocent joy of the child with the mature resignation of the adult, without invalidating either one? Explain. (P. 497)

    The general tone and mood of the stanza one is one of freedom and optimism.  There is a wild nature to Thomas’ verse which is similar to a young child recounting fabulous tales of danger and adventure of his summer vacation.  The child was “prince of apple towns”, things were “young and easy” and the time, rivers, the grass, and night let the child do whatever his heart desired.  This tone is strikingly different than the tone found in the last three lines of the poem.  Narrator describes while time in childhood has let him play, time now “held him [me] green and dying.”  The tone of the last three lines is full of resignation and nostalgia.  It is the first and only time that the narrator speaks about the inevitable passage of time.  It is in the last stanzas where Thomas’ common themes of religion, mortality, and time are once again present.

    In stanza one there is no foreshadowing, like the beginning of childhood, there is no inclination or hint that life will be any different then freedom experienced in the moment.  In stanza two, “in the sun that is young once only,” is foreshadowing.  The narrator is letting the reader know that youth is not renewable and that we should grasp it and hold it close because childhood is fleeting.  In line 14, “Golden in the mercy of his means,” narrator explains that childhood dwindles slowly away simply by being a child and gaining new experiences.  In stanza three, line 17, “and the sabbath rang slowly” which the first eerily dark image in the poem.  This line has duplicity of meaning.  Literally it means that Sunday, the day of rest, come slowly at the end of the week.  It further refers to the sabbath as the end of life, meeting with god.  Death is a progressive disease and slowly seeks up on a person.

    In stanza four, “Flying with the ricks, and the horses / Flashing into the dark,” the words “flying” and “flashing” show a sense of urgency and fleetingness.  This parallels the theme of the poem which is celebrate and enjoy every moment of life because death does eventually come.  In stanza five, “Out of the whinnying green stable,” the color green in “Fern Hill” is a representation of childhood.  Moving out of that “green stable” foreshadows the loss of innocence and the eventually loss of life.  In the last stanza, time has come to claim it’s victim and death is upon the narrator.  He writes “Follow him out of grace, oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means” and “time held me green and dying.”  He has left childhood into adulthood and then left adulthood for death.

    Thomas in “Fern Hill” does a complete and excellent job of incorporating joy of childhood with mature resignation. The poem parallels what really does happen in life.   Most of a person’s life is spent living, and enjoying all the experiences and adventure.  It is only at the end of our lives do we even begin to consider death and dying.  The four stanza flesh out what it means to be a child, to have imagination to be free to experience youthful paradise.  He allots just the right amount of time to resignation of reflection and death.  Thomas is enable to keep joyful childhood from effecting maturity by completely separating the two.  Death is never a component in the poem until the final stanza therefore the two never get a chance to invalidate each other.


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    Fern Hill – Dylan Thomas Communication. (2017, Jan 16). Retrieved from

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