Where Is Time Personified In The Poem Fern Hill?

by Amy

In Dylan Thomas’s celebrated poem “Fern Hill,” the concept of time is vividly personified, woven into the fabric of the poet’s nostalgic reflection on youth and the passage of time. Throughout the poem, there are several instances where time is imbued with human attributes, symbolizing its relentless march and its profound impact on the speaker’s life.

One of the clearest examples of time personification occurs in the opening stanza:

“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,

Here, time is subtly personified as an entity that allows the speaker to be “young and easy,” suggesting a benevolent and nurturing aspect of time in the speaker’s youth. The imagery of being “happy as the grass was green” further enhances this personification, portraying time as a companion to the speaker’s carefree existence.

Analysis of Personification

The personification of time in “Fern Hill” serves a crucial role in enriching the poem’s themes and emotional depth. By giving time human qualities, Thomas underscores its dual nature—both as a force of growth and joy in youth, and as an inevitable agent of loss and change as one grows older. This literary device allows Thomas to explore complex themes such as the fleeting nature of youth, the inevitability of mortality, and the bittersweet passage of time.

Personifying time also adds a layer of intimacy and emotional resonance to the poem. It invites readers to reflect on their own experiences of time’s passage and to empathize with the speaker’s nostalgic longing for a lost innocence.

Contextual Understanding

“Fern Hill” was written by Dylan Thomas in 1945, reflecting his deep-seated nostalgia for his childhood spent in Wales. The poem is suffused with themes of innocence, memory, and the passage of time, set against the backdrop of rural landscapes and the rhythms of nature. Thomas’s own background as a Welsh poet deeply connected to his homeland lends authenticity to the poem’s depiction of a lost paradise of youth.

The pastoral setting of “Fern Hill,” with its imagery of apple boughs, green grass, and starry nights, underscores the poet’s connection to nature and the passing seasons. This context is crucial in understanding why time is personified in the poem—it aligns with Thomas’s broader exploration of Welsh identity, memory, and the cyclical nature of life.

Poetic Techniques

Dylan Thomas employs a range of poetic techniques to personify time in “Fern Hill.” Imagery plays a pivotal role, as seen in phrases like “time allows” and “time held me green and dying,” where time is portrayed not just as a chronological measure but as a nurturing or constraining force in the speaker’s life. Metaphorically, time is depicted as both a caretaker and a relentless adversary, shaping the speaker’s experiences and memories.

Symbolism also contributes to the personification of time. The cyclicality of natural imagery—seasons, sunsets, and dawn—mirrors the cyclical nature of life itself, highlighting time’s role as both creator and destroyer. Thomas’s choice of language, with its lyrical and evocative cadence, enhances the poem’s emotional impact, inviting readers to delve deeper into its themes of transience and mortality.

Comparison and Contrast

Comparing “Fern Hill” with other poems where time is anthropomorphized reveals nuanced differences in how poets approach this literary device. Unlike some poems where time is portrayed as an abstract force or an impartial observer, Thomas’s depiction in “Fern Hill” is deeply personal and emotionally charged. The personification serves not just to mark the passage of time but to evoke a profound sense of loss and longing for the innocence of youth.

In contrast to poems where time may be seen as an antagonist or a distant concept, “Fern Hill” presents time as intimately intertwined with the speaker’s identity and memories. This comparative analysis underscores Thomas’s unique approach to exploring universal themes through a deeply personal lens, resonating with readers on an emotional and philosophical level.

See also: Which Are Traits Of A Free Verse Poem?

Impact on Themes

The personification of time profoundly enriches the exploration of themes in “Fern Hill,” such as youth, nostalgia, mortality, and the passage of time itself. By personifying time, Thomas invites readers to reflect on the inevitability of aging and the fleeting nature of youthful innocence. The poem’s exploration of memory and the loss of innocence is heightened by time’s dual role as both nurturer and adversary, underscoring the fragility of human experience.

Emotionally, the personification of time evokes a poignant sense of longing and melancholy, as the speaker grapples with the irretrievability of past joys. Philosophically, it prompts contemplation on the cyclical nature of life and the inevitability of mortality—a theme that resonates universally across cultures and generations.

In conclusion, Dylan Thomas’s “Fern Hill” masterfully employs the personification of time to deepen its exploration of themes, enhance its emotional resonance, and offer readers a poignant meditation on the passage of time and the fleeting nature of youth. Through rich imagery, evocative language, and a deeply personal narrative, Thomas crafts a timeless poem that continues to captivate and provoke reflection on the human experience.

FAQs about “Fern Hill” by Dylan Thomas

1. How is time viewed in the poem Fern Hill?

In “Fern Hill,” time is viewed as both a nurturing force and a relentless passage that marks the speaker’s journey from youth to adulthood. The poem reflects on the innocence and joy of youth spent at Fern Hill, a farm in Wales, and laments the inevitable loss of that carefree time to the relentless march of time. Time is depicted as a cyclical force that both sustains life (“time held me green and dying”) and inevitably leads to aging and mortality.

2. What is the personification in Fern Hill?

One prominent example of personification in “Fern Hill” is the portrayal of time as a living entity with human attributes. For instance, in the line “time held me green and dying,” time is personified as a caretaker or a force that both nurtures growth (“green”) and leads to eventual decline or mortality (“dying”). This personification underscores time’s dual role as both creator and destroyer of the speaker’s youthful innocence and happiness.

3. What does “Time held me green and dying” mean in Fern Hill?

The phrase “time held me green and dying” encapsulates a central theme of the poem, expressing the paradoxical nature of time’s passage. “Green” symbolizes youth, vitality, and the carefree innocence of childhood, while “dying” suggests the inevitability of aging, change, and mortality. The line conveys how time sustains life and growth while simultaneously leading to the gradual loss of youth and the onset of aging and eventual decline.

4. What is a metaphor in the poem Fern Hill?

A notable metaphor in “Fern Hill” is found in the line “And honoured among wagons I was prince of the apple towns.” Here, the speaker metaphorically compares themselves to a prince, emphasizing their privileged and cherished status among the rural landscapes of Fern Hill. This metaphorical language enriches the poem by conveying the speaker’s deep emotional attachment to the farm and the idyllic memories of their youth spent there.

Related Articles


Discover the soulful universe of PoemsHubs, where words dance with emotions. Immerse yourself in a collection of evocative verses, diverse perspectives, and the beauty of poetic expression. Join us in celebrating the artistry of words and the emotions they unfold.

Copyright © 2023 poemshubs.com