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 effective...
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