Study Guide

Fern Hill Youth

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You're only young once, and all those other clichés. For the speaker of "Fern Hill," youth is everything it should be—joyful, carefree, and oh so fleeting. And that's kind of the problem. It's easy for our speaker to feel the wonders of youth as everlasting, but all along he was doomed to be yanked irreversibly into adulthood, just like the rest of us. It's the bummer of all bummers.

Questions About Youth

  1. What images from nature does the speaker use to describe his youth at the farm. How does he make his feelings about being young as clear as a sunny day in the rolling green hills of the Welsh countryside? 
  2. How does the use of the color green change throughout the poem? What does that signify?
  3. Do you think the tone of this poem would change if it were written in present tense? How does the past tense affect how we understand the speaker's feelings about his youth?

Chew on This

All good things must come to an end, right? But for this speaker, the pastoral setting contains his joy and innocence as a youngster and becomes the epitome of how the speaker felt about youth.

Through several religious references, the speaker assigns a divine innocence to his youth, which is later tainted by the passing of time.

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