Poem by Dylan Thomas that addresses the course themes of time and place. Having researched for this poem I found a really good website called Poets.org. It has a lovely selection of poems and easy to navigate for both poems and poets, not just in text but also in audio and video form. Poets.org
https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/fern-hill – (Accessed October 2, 2018) courtesy of New Directions Publishing Corp 2017
PROJECT 3, EXERCISE 3
https://youtu.be/mM39ChglcYc – Beautifully recited by Thomas himself, sounds quite melodramatic and somber, almost medieval (accessed October 3, 2018)
Fern Hill by Dylan Thomas – narrated by Richard Burton
https://youtu.be/flKfXhrM_4g – Richard Burton recites in a slightly more cheerful version of the poem and can feel the happiness of Thomas as a child he plays and acts in the first part of the poem, becoming more somber as the poem continues (accessed October 3, 2018)
Fern Hill by Dylan Thomas – narrated by Prince Charles
https://youtu.be/R_69zrPN0Z0 – Prince Charles recites the poem sounding very lighthearted, is lovely to hear him reading this poem and a different sound effect to the other more somber readings (accessed October 3, 2018)
Fern Hill by Dylan Thomas – narrated by Julian Scutts
https://youtu.be/ly7vBEIhtfo – Another reading this time by Julian Scutts who also gives valuable insight into the poem suggesting a more sinister angle towards the end with reference to the Pipe Piper of Hamlet poem, having his childhood taken from him, and with rumours suggesting the farm was used by a hangman who murdered someone by hanging them in the barn and then committing suicide (accessed October 3, 2018)
MY THOUGHTS ON FERN HILL
What’s the mood of the poem? and how does it make you feel? When I first read the poem I felt it was almost medieval times I felt it was a poem split into two, when he was younger and then older, so the mood was quite happy and carefree to begin with as he is a child playing amongst the apple trees, running through the grass, daisies and barley. He refers to singing, playing and runningup the hill, also pretending to be a huntsman or herdsman all childlike qualities. The mood changes as it appears he returns as an adult, the excitement of his childhood memories seem to have disappeared and life seems more somber with the passing of time. Sadness seems to have crept in and doesn’t seem to care and fears he has left his childhood behind, he remembers how young he was back then and is now trapped as he mentions being in chains. At first I felt a little confused and found it difficult to understand, but the more I read it and the more I listed to it being read out by other readers and Thomas himself, I felt his happiness and sadness in both parts of the poem.
What poetic devices does Thomas use and what effect do they have on the poem? Use the list above to help you. Poetic Devices: Rhyme – No, Rhythm – No, Repetition – No, Alliteration – No, Assonance – Yes (“and once below a time I lordly had the trees and leaves” using the letter e repeatedly), Consonance – No, Onomatopoeia – No, Personification – No, Simile – Yes (Happy as the grass was green), Metaphor – Yes (“and I was green and carefree”). I felt only 3 of the devices were used, his descriptions using simile’s and metaphor’s allows the reader to imagine what he is imagining, we all know green is a colour but also it is green as in he doesn’t have the knowledge of being an adult he is ‘green’ and still young.
How do the poetic devices help evoke the themes of time and place? Can you identify any other theme running through this poem? The use of time is used to describe his youth by time let him ‘hail and climb’ and ‘let him play’, only to become and adult ‘And then to awake, and the farm, like a wandered white With the dew’. He also refers to the ‘birth of the simple light’ and ‘time held me green and dying’. The places he describes such as the ‘lilting house’, and the ‘apple towns’, the farm and its barns, hills and streams not forgetting the house itself on Fern Hill. All the descriptions of the place appear to be happy as a child but more somber as an adult. The time that he refers to seem to evoke birth and death, young and adult, sun and moon.
What is the poem saying about time and place (and any other theme you’ve identified)? Time is showing how young and carefree he was and how time changes with the sun and the moon, how time allowed him to be happy and let him play, but time also made him somber as he aged and became an adult, where he wasn’t playing, or creating make-believe situations such as a huntsman or herdsman. The place Fern Hill is where he was happy it had a chimney that sang, a farm that contained farms and animals where he played there were hills, streams and stables, all seemed to be taken from him as he felt chained as an adult and not able to enjoy life as he did.
What lines or images stay with you? What do they remind you of or how do they make you feel? The images of him running up the hills and being free to run through the trees and hay and daisies, along the river and at night-time. This reminds me of my own childhood when you had much more freedom than children do nowadays where they are indoors on their computers. I recall going fishing in streams with nets with no adult company and climbing on hay stacks and playing in fields, it was a happy and carefree existence like Thomas describes
What’s the rhythm like? Is it choppy or is it flowing and smooth? How does the rhythm impact on the poem? When I read the poem myself I felt it was quite choppy with little short bits of information about Fern Hill, going from one description to the next. Having heard several people read the poem out loud, I find that it flows and is quite smooth, so its interesting to see the change in my answer as now when I read it I do feel it flows quite smoothly and is gentle although somber towards the end. I felt the rhythm is continuous throughout the poem but it changes as he becomes an adult and returns to Fern Hill.
Is the speaker important? What are his views? Are they apparent or inferred? The speaker is important and he is what the story is about, the child and the adult – from what I can see he loved his childhood at Fern Hill, was a typical boy out running through the fields, daisies up the hill, he seems sad about aging that its taken away the fun of his youth and that he is now trapped possibly alone, whereas he had been carefree and happy as a child whereas he seemed to be chained down as an adult. If I am correct in my analyse of the poem it was fairly clear after I had read the poem a few times.
Are there any lines you don’t get? Can you hazard a guess as to what they mean or allude to? I didn’t quite understand the lines ‘With the dew, come back, the cock on his shoulder: it was all Shining, it was Adam and maiden’ I didn’t understand who they were. Also the last line ‘Though I sang in my chains like the sea’, I felt this was about him being old and trapped like chains, but wasn’t quite sure about the reference to the sea.
REFLECTION – EXERCISE 3
On reflection of this exercise, it really has taught me a lot. when I first read the poem it didn’t really mean anything as in I didn’t quite understand it, the wording seemed archaic. After I read it for the fourth time I then highlighted the lines that mentioned or referred to time and place. This gave me more understanding of how the poem seemed to be split into his childhood at Fern Hill and then his return as an adult. It evoked feelings of my own childhood when things where children had so much more freedom and nature was more prevalent. I also researched the suggested readings by Burton and Thomas himself and found them to be fairly similar in style although Burton did seem a little lighter in parts. I listened to two further audio readings by Prince Charles and Julian Scutts. Prince Charles has a distinctive voice and I couldn’t help think this really was Prince Charles and I’m not sure he got the mood of the poem, however Julian Scutts did. Scutts also added his own commentary and added notes on his thoughts of the poem which surprised me as he suggested there was a more sinister angle that included a hangman in the barn who murdered someone there and then committed suicide, I didn’t see that at all in the poem. I enjoyed researching and I enjoyed learning more about the poem, I had never read it before or heard of it so it really was a revelation and new learning experience.