In ‘Fern Hill’ Dylan Thomas recreates Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience

Garden3Dylan Thomas seems to be influenced by William Blake for his autobiographical poem Fern Hill where he puts his own life into poetic perspective and describes the personal evolution from innocence to experience. Fern Hill is, thus, an autobiographical poem where he has endeavored to glean his childhood memories and explored the evolution in a way which has universal appeal. The poem is a fine example of Wordsworthian double consciousness, since it gives the reader fine view of both worlds – one full of innocence and the other full of experience.

Like William Blake has put in place two worlds in his famous ‘Songs of Innocence’ and ‘Songs of Experience’, Dylan Thomas’ Fern Hill does also have two sides and can be divided into two parts. The poem’s first three stanzas are related to the poet’s experience as a child when he uses to spend his summer holidays at his uncle’s farm which is called Fern Hill. but the last three stanzas are about an awakening in the child which signifies the loss of the world of innocence.

At the core of Dylan’s loss of the innocence readers can identify the myths of fall of the first human beings (Adam and Eve). The world of innocence (child) as described the poem is like the Garden of Eden where the child is in complete union with the nature. This allows the child to weave fantasies offering the child an Edenic bliss.

Thomas has taken a timeless approach to describe the world which seems away from loss and decay. However, the poet makes a slow transition in the third stanza towards the world of experience. In the fourth stanza, he resorts to using symbols such as sleep and marks awakening from the world of fantasy. He successfully transports his readers into the world of reality. Here the fall of Adam and Eve becomes palpable.

In the last stanza the poet once again broods over the memoirs of his childhood. But it comes from the realization of the fact that the world of experience is harsh and cruel. He seems aware and cautious in the last stanza description.

In short, Fern Hill is a classic example of human life where he wants to transport to the world of innocence from the harsh and cruel world of experience. The poem is a fine example of Dylan’s masterly poetic talent. In the poem, he has relived the romantic world of Wordsworth and Blake. Unlike TS Eliot, Dylan has realized and valued the nature in his poem.

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4 responses to “In ‘Fern Hill’ Dylan Thomas recreates Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience

  1. Is a return to innocence the culmination of a life lived? Is this Dylan’s yearning? And is it what Jesus meant when he said “suffer little children to come unto me?”

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