Fern Hill was the farm of Dylan Thomas’ aunt. When he was a child, he spent his days there like “a prince of the apple town”. The joy of a child who loves Nature with its innocent beauty and colour and freedom is the theme of the poem. Now the poet is old and lives with his problems and difficulties of life.
2. He recalls his childhood days when he spent carefree life, like a butterfly moving everywhere in the farm, in the valley, playing in the “ pebbles of the holy streams”. The starry night twinkled at him and he rolled in the green grass. He was honoured among wagons. He was huntsman and herdsman. He heard the church bell in the flow of water over the pebbles and thus he worshipped Nature. Bird and foxes were his companions. Dylan Thomas, the modern poet recalls the innocent pleasures of childhood in his poem titled “Fern Hill” He says that in his childhood days, he used to feel as important and as honoured as a prince when he played among the farm wagons or under the apple trees. He was the king and all the trees, birds, foxes, cows, goats and other animals were his beloved subjects. They all played with him. They were golden days and everything in his life was green and happy.
3. The poet says that the sun is young only once. The sun stands for the poet’s childhood days. Only in you childhood days does one enjoy the beauty and glory of the sunlight. The childhood is transitory because it is one of stages of human life. On the other hand the sun is permanent. The poet wants to enjoy the beauty of sunset and sunrise throughout his life. But alas! the problems and difficulties of life makes it a “pathless wood” where there is only darkness and you cannot enjoy the glory of the sunlight. So the poet is nostalgic about the glory of his childhood days. Like William Wordsworth, Dylan Thomas also believes that God pervades in Nature. So he says that in his childhood days, he enjoyed the beauty and presence of God in the flow of the stream over the pebbles. The musical sound reminds him of the church bell ringing for people to worship God in church.
4. As a child, Dylan Thomas used to play in the farm of his aunt till the sunset and after that he went to bed. He dreamed in his sleep that the owls had taken away the farm because he could hear throughout the night the cry of night birds such as the owls. They used to fly over the haystacks and the horses in the stables. But early in the morning when the child woke up, he would find the farm wet with dew. So the child thought that the farm had been wandering everywhere throughout the night and came back tired. The cock was perching on its should crowing to herald the beautiful morning. But the farm is more beautiful than yesterday because it was as fresh and innocent as Adam and Eve in the Bible. Similarly the Sun has also come back to the eastern horizon brighter and more beautiful.
5. Now the poet has grown up and suffered difficulties and problems of life. Sitting at home, he hears the swallow flying overhead. The beautiful swallow birds remind him of his glorious childhood days. In his childhood days, he used to enjoy the beauty and wonder of these innocent birds flying in the blue sky. They filled his heart with infinite joy and peace. Now the poet feels that the sense of wonder and the innocent joy of childhood is lost for ever, as we grow old in the mechanical, busy, dirty human world. Now the poet sadly says “I should hear him fly with the high field
And wake to the farm forever fled from the childless land”. Here the poet says a phrase – childless land, because the poet’s childhood is over forever.
6. In concluding the poem, Dylan Thomas remarks that death is unavoidable. He says that when he has grown up, time has enslaved him to various problem of life and he lost the beauty of carefree childhood days. Still he loves life with all its sorrow and pain. He accepts death only because it is unavoidable. He says that he will sing even in chains till he breathes his last.
Annotate the following:
1. Time let me hail and climb
Golden in the heydays of his eyes
….I lordly had the trees and leaves 1st & 2nd paragraphs
2. In the sun that is young once only
…..in the mercy of his means 1st & 3rd paragraphs
3. And Sabbath rang slowly
In the pebbles of the holy streams 1st & 3rd paragraphs
4. As I rode to sleep the owls were bearing the farm away
…..Flashing into the dark 1st & 4th paragraphs
5. And then to awake, and the farm, like a wanderer white
With the dew, come back, the cock on his shoulder: It was all
Shining, it was Adam and maiden
….the birth of the simple light 1st &4th paragraphs
6. I should hear him fly with the high fields
And wake to the farm forever fled from the childless land 1st & 5th paragraphs
7. Time held me green and dying
Though I sang in my chains like the sea 1st & 6th paragraphs
Essay: as above.