Student Question

What experience does the poem "Fern Hill" convey?

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Welsh poet Dylan Thomas's 1945 poem captures the experience of moving from youth and innocence to age and experience. In the first five stanzas, the speaker describes his carefree youth in a virtual Eden on the farm at Fern Hill where he grew up in the Welsh countryside. It was a lush, verdant ,and fertile place, and he felt he was "prince of the apple towns" where he farmed, hunted, and herded. Unbeknownst to the speaker, as he later reflects, time was irrevocably passing, and his innocence was bliss.

In the poem's last two stanzas, the speaker addresses the listener from the perspective of age; his wisdom has been hard-won at the expense of the innocence he enjoyed as a young person. He acknowledges that this is the fate of all adults and likens it to the fall from grace experienced in the Garden of Eden.

The final stanza reflects the sentiment that he, like all of us, never thought about the finite nature of earthly life when he was young. He is nostalgic for the days when he knew only the seemingly endless pleasure of his youth and when he was not focused on the passage of time. In this way, time is kind to us; we enjoy our childhood without the burden of obsessing on our mortality.

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