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Themes

If the speaker of "Fern Hill" made one mistake as a youth, it's that he failed to realize that being young doesn't last forever. So at the beginning of the poem, we've got a footloose and fancy free youth, but by the end, we're left with an older, wiser, sadder speaker. That change occurs gradually and subtly, but if you look closely at the imagery of the poem, you might be surprised to find you'd seen it coming all along.

Questions About Change

  1. He doesn't have a magic crystal ball, but how does the speaker foreshadow change in the poem before it actually happens? 
  2. How does the speaker use repetition to express change in the poem without boring us to death? 
  3. In what ways does this poem support the statement, "Hindsight is 20/20"?
  4. Throughout the poem, time is passing and the days are changing into nights and then back into days. Thank you Captain Obvious. But if change is constant throughout the poem, how does the speaker express that he didn't notice things were changing? In other words, how does the speaker recreate a sense of being naïve even though he was surrounded by change to begin with?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Although the speaker in "Fern Hill" acted as if his youth would last forever, images of motion, such as streams and rivers, create a tension that foreshadows the eventual passing of youth.

"Fern Hill" is a poem that uses the natural cycle of a day from light to dark as a framework for the passing of time, which both frees and imprisons the speaker.

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