Summary (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
Although Thomas was not especially eager to look back on the poems of his youth, “The Force That Through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower” was one of which he remained reasonably fond in later years. It was written in a burst of creative energy when Thomas was nineteen, possibly precipitated by the knowledge that his father had cancer and might not survive. The intensity of his feelings are captured by the propulsive power of the first line, which establishes a link between the awesome natural forces of the universe and the poetic consciousness of the young man who felt that his creative instincts were fired by the wonders of the world around him. When he declares that “the force”—a mystic surge of energy that animates and destroys—is the source of both the “green age” in which his youth glows with promise and the “wintry fever” that bends the “crooked rose,” he has drawn the terms of the paradox that was to haunt him throughout his life. Even in the presence of life at its most vibrant, Thomas detected the signs of death, and the language that he uses in the poem is both destructive (dried streams, rotted roots) and fructuous (a mouth sucking life, pulsing red blood), joining the joys of passion with an anticipation of its eventual dispersal. The poet recognizes the immediacy of a moment of excitement and the realization that everything is temporary as “time has ticked a heaven round the stars.”
The poem is particularly...
(The entire section is 602 words.)
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Line 1: "The Force That through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower" is a complicated poem. On the first reading, it may seem almost too difficult for a beginning reader to understand. However, careful analysis will make much of the imagery clearer. As a survey of critics reveals, there is no one right explanation for the more complicated ideas in the poem. Even critics interpret lines in different and often contradictory ways. Since the poem is about contrast, change, and paradox, this may prove part of the poem's meaning.
The first stanza in the poem is the easiest to understand. It is important to be aware of the pattern that Thomas develops in this stanza, in order to look for variations that appear later. The first three lines contrast the creative and destructive forces that surround man. Thomas's imagery emphasizes the explosive nature of this power. The green fuse is obviously the flower's stem, yet the word "fuse" gives the connotation of explosive growth, rather than gentle development. In this line, Thomas introduces the creative force in nature.
The rhyme scheme in this stanza is ababa.
Line 2: In the first four words of this line, the power that causes growth in nature is revealed as the same force that causes the speaker to grow. Like the flower, the speaker is still in the process of growing. Green age implies youth, since the word green has connotations of spring and renewal. Although green...
(The entire section is 1723 words.)