Poetry Friday: Fern Hill

May 25, 2006 @ 9:40 pm | Filed under:

As promised, the poem that inspired the title of my new ClubMom blog:

Fern Hill
by Dylan Thomas

Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs
About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green,
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.

The poem is still under copyright so you’ll have to click through to read the rest. It’s worth your time. Every line quivers like a plucked cello string; I think it resonates all the more now that childhood is so rarely as “green and carefree” as Thomas portrays it. Today’s overscheduled, overplugged children seldom have time to “run their heedless ways” amid the daisies and the barley.

“Fern Hill” is a poignant meditation on how fleeting are the golden, magical, carefree days of childhood. The poem ends with a reminder that time had a hold on that long-ago boy from the beginning, even as he ran around the farmyard, oblivious of his own mortality, under a sun that seemed brand new:

Nothing I cared, in the lamb white days, that time would take me
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.
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.

But to be chained like the sea is hardly a bondage! As the sea sings its rhythms in accord with the turning of the earth and the moon, so does the poet’s soul sing in celebration of the treasure of a carefree youth—even as he acknowledges that we are dying from the moment we are born. He savored his boyhood then and he savors it now, every bright detail: the “horses flashing into the dark,” the “new made clouds,” the calves singing to his horn while

the foxes on the hills barked clear and cold,
And the sabbath rang slowly
In the pebbles of the holy streams.

Other Poetry Friday contributors: founder Big A little a, Farm School, Chicken Spaghetti, Jen Robinson’s Book Page, The Simple and the Ordinary, Mungo’s Mathoms, bookshelves of doom, Book Buds, Bartography, Mother Reader, Slayground, Scholar’s Blog, A Chair, a Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy

    Related Posts


3 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. Karen E. says:

    Beautiful, Lissa. I’m looking forward to visiting you at the Lilting House. A new highlight in my day….

  2. Mary Beth Patnaude says:

    What a beautiful poem! This is a reminder to me to guard the carefree days of childhood. I was contemplating signing my kids up for swimming lessons, now I think I will not.

  3. Jen Robinson's Book Page says:

    Poetry Friday: Paul Revere’s Ride

    Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Listen my children and you shall hearOf the midnight ride of Paul Revere,On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;Hardly a man is now aliveWho remembers that famous day and year. He said to his friend, If the