Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.
And honoured among foxes and pheasants by the gay house
Under the new made clouds and happy as the heart was long,
- Still reminiscing, our speaker relies on old poetic tricks. Take "the gay house," for example. That's yet another pathetic fallacy, in which the speaker is projecting emotions onto an object that sure as shootin' has no feelings whatsoever.
- He's also repeating himself yet again (surprise, surprise) with that phrase "And honoured." We saw that one way back in line 6. Once again, the speaker's echoing himself.
- And we also have more emphasis on newness here—the "new made clouds"—and happiness, too.
- Sure, this speaker may be ridiculously repetitive, but hey, he just can't help himself. That's how awesome life was on the farm, back in the day.
In the sun born over and over,
I ran my heedless ways
My wishes raced through the house high hay
- As the sun is "born over and over," like something that will never die, the speaker says that he "ran my heedless ways." In other words, he was a carefree little punk, not really paying much attention to what he had.
- It's a strange confession in some ways, because he seems to have paid attention to a lot. The vivid description and figurative language of the poem have made Fern Hill come alive on the page. But as a child, he's admitting he didn't stop to appreciate where he was or how pleasant youth can be. Could this be a hint at what's to come in the final stanza?
- In line 41, he says his wishes "raced," and we think that's fitting. After all, the rush of imagery and description in this poem, combined with its sing-songy rhythm and repetitive sounds, have given this poem a whole lot of forward momentum. But we know that that forward momentum has to come to an end sometime.
And nothing I cared, at my sky blue trades, that time allows
In all his tuneful turning so few and such morning songs
Before the children green and golden
Follow him out of grace.
- At long last, we see regret creeping through these lines. The speaker says he didn't care to heed such beauty and innocence back then, and didn't realize that those days would be "so few." Ah, hindsight is 20/20, right?
- And as time goes on, time becomes the very thing that leads him out of his imaginary Eden. Earlier in the poem, Time was like a watchful guardian, spoiling the speaker with the illusion of an eternity of happiness and joy, all green and golden. But here, time has shifted and becomes the "tuneful turning" that leads the children out of this perfect summer.
- We're betting you spotted it, but we'll go ahead and point it out anyway: check out his repetition of "green" and "golden." Once again, we get the sense that these colors are deeply connected to youth, vitality, joy, innocence. You get the picture.
- But then time leads those children away from that era. They are "following him out of grace." It's possible too that time is acting a bit like the Pied Piper, from the tales of the Brothers Grimm. He lures children away from their town by playing a flute. And here, time "in all his tuneful and turning" is playing a song that lures the children. In fact, the whole landscape (remember the spellbound horses?) is enchanted.
- But here, time leads the children away from the few mornings it has allowed them. Suddenly, it's all over, and it's time the children have to follow "out of grace." Sounds like time pulled the ultimate fake out, and the speaker fell for it.
- That word "grace" jumps out at Shmoop, especially with all those Eden references earlier in the poem. In Christianity, grace is the love and mercy of God, who gives it to sinners freely for salvation. According to some, this grace is really only necessary because of original sin—because Adam and Eve ate the fruit in Eden and got themselves a one-way ticket East of Eden.
- In a way, then, this poem reads like a subtle parallel of Adam and Eve's story. Just like Adam and Eve were cast out of paradise, this young kid (and all other young kids like him), are cast out of a state of grace by Time.