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, and wrote about the house in his short story, The Peaches. 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. A further account describes both Thomas’ childhood and later years on the family farms between Llangain and Llansteffan, as well as questioning whether the poem Fern Hill was inspired by the house Fernhill.
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,
- The night above the dingle starry,
- All the sun long it was running, it was lovely, the hay
- Fields high as the house, the tunes from the chimneys, it was air...
- With the dew, come back, the cock on his shoulder: it was all
- Shining, it was Adam and maiden,
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.
The poem uses internal half rhyme and full rhyme as well as end rhyme. Thomas was very conscious of the effect 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".
- Dylan Remembered 1914-34, vol 1, by D N Thomas, Seren 2003
- A True Childhood: Dylan’s Peninsularity by D. N. Thomas in Dylan Thomas: A Centenary Celebration ed. H. Ellis, Bloomsbury, 2014
- Dylan Thomas on BBC Wales Arts page
- Seymour H Sound and Form in Modern Poetry page 255
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