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Fern Hill

Fern Hill

by Dylan Thomas

Analysis: Sound Check

"Fern Hill" is one-part sophisticated hip-hop artist, romancing about the hood where he came from, and one-part forlorn monologue of someone who can't let go of the past. Just like freestyle rappers use rhyme to create momentum and flow in their songs, Dylan Thomas uses syllabic lines (see "Form and Meter"), repetition, and rhyme to make his poem "sing." Ahem, is this on? Please welcome to the page, MC Apple Town Prince!

Er, sort of, anyway. Although he's not shouting into a microphone, he's definitely losing himself in the rhythm of his poem. As the momentum builds in the syllabic lines, the joy and excitement of the speaker's feelings can be heard. Also, the unusual syntax of the poem creates a hypnotic, nostalgic feel that allows the speaker to alter his tone as he moves from happy recollection to sad lamentation. Let's take a look at the first stanza and you'll get an idea of what we mean.

In line 1, "was" and "easy" are an example of internal rhyme. Also, the first four words, "Now as I was" create a quick momentum. It's like someone skipping across the page, as if the rhythm is as excited as the speaker was as a child. Also, the word "now" is followed by "as." Shortly after, "was" appears. If you take the W from N and connect it with "as," you have "was," right? This doubling of the word creates a cool sound link right off the bat, but it also visually links the words together. It's just a method of creating a sing-songy vibe in the poem.

Later, in line 2, the double P from apple reappears in "happy." Also, the GR is echoed between "grass was green." Again, what's the point? Just that sound is extremely important to Thomas because it's a way to communicate the tone of the poem. While we read the words, we can hear how the speaker felt. All of this sound play makes the stanza seem like a small field where sound is frolicking through the lines. Go ahead, see where else you can find these poetic techniques in the poem. Thomas planted them everywhere.

Curious to hear how Dylan Thomas wanted the poem read aloud? Make sure you hear it from the man himself.

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