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Fern Hill

Fern Hill


by Dylan Thomas

Stanza 4 Summary

Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.

Lines 28-29

And then to awake, and the farm, like a wanderer white
With the dew, come back, the cock on his shoulder: it was all

  • In these lines, the day returns, the speaker awakes, and all is beautiful and back in place. Huzzah! He continues to praise the beauty of the landscape, using a simile to describe the farm in the morning as "a wanderer white / with the dew." Of course that simile also personifies the farm, giving it a shoulder in line 29. 
  • There's a callback to the previous stanza here, too. "It was all" at the end of line 29 looks and sounds an awful lot like "it was air" from line 20. There's that repetition again.
  • And did you notice how that hard K sound has appeared in the past few lines? The "ricks" and "dark" and "awake" and "cock" sonically bind together the passing of night into day. It's a bit jarring, too, which is an effective reminder that it's about time we wake up.

Lines 30-32

Shining, it was Adam and maiden,
The sky gathered again
And the sun grew round that very day.

  • Allusion alert! The speaker name drops the first man, Adam, and the maiden, Eve. Clearly this guy thinks this farm is paradise—Eden, even.
  • But when you combine this reference with his mention of apples earlier in the poem, you can't help but wonder: is this all going to come to an end? Is our speaker doomed to be cast out of this farm, just like Adam and Eve found themselves kicked out of Eden?
  • Maybe. It's worth remembering that this poem isn't just about how awesome the farm is. It's also about how awesome the farm is when the speaker was young. We're working in the past tense here.

Lines 33-36

So it must have been after the birth of the simple light
In the first, spinning place, the spellbound horses walking warm
Out of the whinnying green stable
On to the fields of praise.

  • On with the religious imagery. Here he's saying that the farm in the morning is like God's creation itself. Not that he's exaggerating or anything.
  • "After the birth of the simple light" likely refers to Genesis 1:3—you know, that whole "let there be light" thing?
  • For him, the sun rising on the farm, the waking up of the horses, and all that morning jazz is just like that moment of creation. That's how strongly he feels about how awesome this farm was when he was young.
  • Detail-wise, there's a lot to love in these lines. Check out the callback to line 23, when he called the stars "simple." Here he calls the light of the rising sun "simple." Well, the sun's a star so that makes sense.
  • And then there's that awesome switcheroo Thomas pulls in line 35. 
  • Normally, horses whinny. But here, the green stables are whinnying, giving them a life of their own. 
  • This stanza ends with "fields of praise." Up until now, the speaker has been praising Fern Hill. So he's just calling a spade a spade and saying, "look, these fields are praiseworthy and I'm praising them." But here the fields seem to be made of praise themselves. There's such a merging of the landscape and this speaker's feelings that we hardly know where one ends and the other begins.

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