The Force That through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower
Sure, Dylan Thomas was a pretty troubled guy. His life of excess led to an early exit, but the dude could certainly write a poem. He had a knack for writing poems that seem to contain the kind of intensity with which he led his life. Thomas once said of his own poems that they had to be read either very soft or very loud. For Thomas, there was no middle ground. "The Force That through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower" is a super example of this intensity.
Thomas wrote "The Force…" when he was just nineteen, and it was published as part of his first book, 18 Poems, in 1934. 18 Poems received good reviews and helped to establish the young Welsh poet as an important new voice in the poetry world.
In this case, "The Force…" explores some of what would become Thomas's go-to themes, like death and the power of time. In the poem, the speaker makes observations of time's impact on the natural world and connects them to time's impact on his own life.
Tragically, that life was all-too-short. In poor health, and after days of heavy drinking, Dylan Thomas died in 1953 while on a reading tour in New York City. He was 39.
Why Should I Care?
What do you do when you feel something so intensely that you think you might burst? Some people scream into a pillow, others tell their best friend, some might even hit the gym to let off a little steam. And then, of course, there are the criers (you know who you are). But there are some people, like artists, poets, and musicians, that channel those feelings and turn them into something tangible.
Dylan Thomas's poem, "The Force That through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower," is a great example of art that captures that intensity of feeling and puts it into a form other people can experience. (Sure, people can experience you screaming into a pillow, but they probably aren't going to get much out of it.)
By channeling those intense feelings into his poem, Thomas lets us share some of that energy and vitality and perhaps even recognize it in ourselves. If you've ever listened to a great song or seen a really good live performance of some kind, and the hair stood up on the back of your neck, you've felt it. That's you experiencing and sharing in the intensity the artist feels. It's the kind of charge that can be inspirational and it can make you want to get out there and harness some of your own intense feelings, to make them tangible for others to share and experience—the same way that Thomas does with this poem.
Who knows? You might end up becoming the next Dylan Thomas—minus the alcoholism and the untimely death, of course.