The Force That Through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower The Poem

Dylan Thomas

The Poem

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

“The Force That Through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower” is a carefully sculptured poem of four stanzas and a coda, its twenty-two lines scrupulously crafted for maximum power and, to some extent, maximum puzzlement.

The poem, as the title echoing the first line suggests, is about a mysterious force, which the poet proceeds to define, qualify, and examine in a variety of ways. This force, presumably the force behind all nature and reality—maybe even a divine force—paradoxically combines life and death and links the poet—the “I” of the poem—to the universe.

Each stanza identifies the force in a slightly different way, defining a different aspect of its operation. The effect of the stanzas is cumulative and progressive; each definition qualifies and amplifies the last. Each stanza ends by establishing the poet’s relation to the force.

In the first stanza, the force is the “life” force or growth force that drives flowers through the soil into bloom. Death, however, is also a part of natural growth, and this same force destroys the roots of trees. After all, photosynthesis (one natural process) enables flowers to increase in size and bloom; worms, wind, or disease (other natural processes) can dramatically eat away at the roots of trees and cause them to topple suddenly. Simultaneously, the poet has linked the force of life/death to himself, for it both drives his youth and will eventually lead to his death. Nevertheless, the poet is unable to communicate with nature (“the crooked rose”)...

(The entire section is 631 words.)