Study Guide

Fern Hill Happiness

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About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green (2)

The poem begins by the speaker directly stating that he was happy. Happy as grass, he says. Okay, what does that mean? Immediately, the speaker is equating his emotional state with the landscape, as if nature and emotion are intertwined with each other. In other words, he's using his descriptions of nature as a manifestation of his internal being.

And I was green and carefree, famous among the barns
About the happy yard and singing as the farm was home (10-11)

Okay, he might as well break into "I'm siiiiiiinging in the rain!" here. This guy's happy and he's definitely not afraid to show it. The speaker is happy. The grass is happy. The yard is happy. Happy, happy, happy.

Another way the speaker creates a tone of happiness is through his use of sound play in the poem. Notice how "green" and "carefree" rhyme? The double E in "green" and "carefree" match up with each other. The "y" in happy also has that long E sound. This assonance makes lines echo each other and gives them a light-hearted feel. Imagine a kid smiling at a camera and saying "cheeeeeeeeese!" That long E sound works the same way in these lines, and brings to mind smiles and good times.

And honoured among foxes and pheasants by the gay house
Under the new made clouds and happy as the heart was long (36-37)

He was so happy back then, it made the whole world glow with good feelings. He's on the top of the world and everything he looks at seems to be as happy as he is. This excess of positive emotion works well to make the poem a song of praise, but also makes the change in emotion at the end that much more dramatic.

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