Fern Hill : summary

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Fern Hill is a notable literary work by Dylan Thomas. A complete discussion of this literary work is given, which will help you enhance your literary skills and prepare for the exam. Read the main text, key info, Summary, Themes, Characters, Literary Devices, Quotations, Notes, to various questions of Fern Hill.


Fern Hill” is a poem by the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, first published in 1945. It is a nostalgic and lyrical exploration of childhood, time, and the passage of life. Here is the summary of the poem:

Background of the poem: Fern Hill is a poem by Dylan Thomas. The poem was first published in Horizon magazine in October 1935. Fern Hill was Dylan Thomas’ aunty’s farm. The poet spent his life in Aunty’s house like the “Prince of Apple Town.” The central theme of this poem is the joy of a child who loves nature with its innocent beauty, colour and freedom. Now, the poet has grown old and is living with various problems and hardships in life.

Poet’s Childhood in Fern Hill: The Poet recalls his childhood, that he lived a carefree life like a butterfly fluttering everywhere on the farm and playing in the water stream. The starry night twinkled at him, and he tumbled into the green grass. He was the king of freight cars. He was a hunter and herder. He listened to the sound of the church as the water flowed over the pebbles, and thus he worshipped nature. Birds and foxes were his companions.

Poet’s Golden Days: Modern poet Dylan Thomas recalls the simple joys of childhood in his poem “Fern Hill”. He said that as a child, he felt respected and essential as a prince when he played in the farm wagons or under the apple tree. He was the king, and all trees, birds, foxes, cows, goats and other animals were his favourite subjects. They all played with him. Those were golden days, and everything in his life was green and happy.

Comparison of the poet’s childhood with the sun: The poet says that the sun is young only once. The sun represents the childhood days of the poet. Only one in infancy enjoys the beauty and glory of sunlight. Childhood is fleeting as it is one of the stages of human life. Sun, on the other hand, is permanent. The poet wants to enjoy the beauty of sunset and sunrise throughout his life. But alas! The problems and difficulties of life make it a “pathless wood” where there is only darkness. So, the poet is nostalgic about his childhood glory.

Like William Wordsworth, Dylan Thomas also believed that God pervades nature. So he said that as a child, he enjoyed the beauty and presence of God in the stream flowing over the pebbles. The sound reminds him of ringing church bells to worship God in churches.

Poet’s Childhood in Fern Hill: As a child, Dylan Thomas used to play on his aunt’s farm until sunset and then go to sleep. He dreamed in his sleep that owls had taken over the farm. Because he could hear the night birds cry like owls all night long. They would fly over the grass in the stables and over the horses. But when the child woke up early in the morning, he would find the farm wet with dew. So the child thought that the farm had returned tired from wandering everywhere throughout the night. The rooster crows to herald the arrival of the beautiful morning. 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 returned to the eastern horizon brighter and more beautiful. Thus, the poet recalls his childhood memories.

Actual life of the poet: The poet is now grown up and faces various problems and difficulties. Sitting at home, he heard a swallow flying overhead. The beautiful swallows remind him of his glorious childhood days. As a child, he enjoyed 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 as we grow old in the mechanical, busy, dirty human world, childhood’s sense of wonder and innocent joy is lost forever.

Conveying the message of death: In concluding the poem, Dylan Thomas comments that death is inevitable. He says that when he grew up, time enslaved him to various problems in life, and he lost the infinite beauty of childhood. Yet he loves life with all its sorrows and pains. He accepts death simply because it is inevitable. He said that he would also sing in Bandhi till his last breath. In other words, you will sing the song of childhood.