Study Guide

Fern Hill Happiness

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It's next to impossible not to hear the happiness of the speaker in "Fern Hill." From the first line, through all of the first five stanzas, the speaker is praising his youth as a time of joy. And the poem's playful sounds and language only mirror that emotion, adding music and jauntiness to the poem's lines. If there's one thing the speaker hasn't lost, it's his ability to remember just how great being young felt.

Questions About Happiness

  1. How does the speaker's use of rhyme all the time, line after line, express a tone of happiness and feeling oh so fine (yep, that just happened) throughout the poem? 
  2. How does the speaker use descriptions of the setting to express his happiness? 
  3. Although most of the poem is about the speaker's happiness, how does the tone shift at the end of the poem from glad to sad? How does this change everything that the speaker has said about being happy? Has he lost his happiness or does he realize it was just an illusion of youth?

Chew on This

The speaker in "Fern Hill" could've just said, "I'm happy and I know it," and then clapped his hands, but instead, he uses alliteration, rhyme and metaphor to figuratively express his happiness throughout the poem.

Although most of "Fern Hill" seems to be a poem about happiness, the last stanza flips the entire poem upside down and the speaker's tone changes drastically to show that his happiness was nothing more than naiveté.

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