Online Poems

for Craig White's Literature Courses

Fern Hill


by Dylan Thomas (1914-53)

[with highlights & annotations indicating poetic techniques or effects]

Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs  [melodic lyricism]
About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green,   [double alliteration]
     The night above the dingle starry,
          Time let me hail and climb
     Golden in the heydays of his eyes,
And honoured among wagons I was prince of the apple towns
And once below a time I lordly had the trees and leaves
          Trail with daisies and barley
     Down the rivers of the windfall light.  [imagination, dream-like]  [alliteration]

And as I was green and carefree, famous among the barns
About the happy yard and singing as the farm was home,
     In the sun that is young once only,
          Time let me play and be
     Golden in the mercy of his means,
And green and golden I was huntsman and herdsman, the calves  [alliteration]
Sang to my horn, the foxes on the hills barked clear and cold,  [alliteration]
          And the sabbath rang slowly
     In the pebbles of the holy streams.

All the sun long it was running, it was lovely, the hay  ["empty subject" allows reader to identify or personalize]
Fields high as the house, the tunes from the chimneys, it was air
     And playing, lovely and watery
          And fire green as grass.   [imagination is stretched; sound pleases]
     And nightly under the simple stars
As I rode to sleep the owls were bearing the farm away,   [dream-like imagination]
All the moon long I heard, blessed among stables, the nightjars [nightjars = nocturnal birds; cf. nighthawks]
     Flying with the ricks, and the horses
          Flashing into the dark.

And then to awake, and the farm, like a wanderer white   [alliteration]
With the dew, come back, the cock on his shoulder: it was all
     Shining, it was Adam and maiden,              [allusion to Genesis / Eden]
          The sky gathered again
     And the sun grew round that very day.
So it must have been after the birth of the simple light       [allusion to Nativity of Christ]
In the first, spinning place, the spellbound horses walking warm
     Out of the whinnying green stable
          On to the fields of praise.

And honoured among foxes and pheasants by the gay house
Under the new made clouds and happy as the heart was long,
     In the sun born over and over,
          I ran my heedless ways,
     My wishes raced through the house high hay
And nothing I cared, at my sky blue trades, that time allows
In all his tuneful turning so few and such morning songs
     Before the children green and golden     [visuals + sound]
          Follow him out of grace,

Nothing I cared, in the lamb white days, that time would take me     [lamb = symbol]
Up to the swallow thronged loft by the shadow of my hand,
     In the moon that is always rising,
          Nor that riding to sleep
     I should hear him fly with the high fields
And wake to the farm forever fled from the childless land.   [alliteration]
Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means,
          Time held me green and dying
     Though I sang in my chains like the sea.


 gratefully copied from