Fern Hill

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Fern Hill (1945) is a poem by Dylan Thomas, first published in the October, 1945, Horizon magazine, with its first book publication as the last poem in Deaths and Entrances. The poem starts as a straightforward evocation of his childhood visits to his Aunt Annie's farm:

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

In the middle section, the idyllic scene is expanded upon, reinforced by the lilting rhythm of the poem, the dreamlike, pastoral metaphors and allusion to Eden. By the end, the poet's older voice has taken over, mourning his lost youth with echoes of the opening:

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.[1]

The poem uses internal half rhyme and full rhyme as well as end rhyme. Thomas was very conscious of the impact of spoken or intoned verse and explored the potentialities of sound and rhythm, in a manner reminiscent of Gerard Manley Hopkins. He always denied having conscious knowledge of Welsh, but "his lines chime with internal consonantal correspondence, or cynghanedd, a prescribed feature of Welsh versification".[2]

The house Fernhill is just outside Llangain in Carmarthenshire. Thomas had extended stays here in the 1920s with his aunt Annie and her husband, Jim Jones. His holidays here have been recalled in interviews with his schoolboy friends, and both the house and the Thomas family network in the area are detailed in the same book.[3]

Musical composition[edit]

Fern Hill has been set to music by the American composer John Corigliano, for SATB chorus with orchestral accompaniment.[4]


  1. ^ Dylan Thomas on BBC Wales Arts page
  2. ^ Seymour H Sound and Form in Modern Poetry page 255
  3. ^ Dylan Remembered 1914-34, vol 1, by D N Thomas, Seren 2003
  4. ^ Providence Singers Musical background notes

External links[edit]