Study Guide

The Force That through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower Time

By Dylan Thomas


Now that we know that the mysterious "force" in Dylan Thomas's "The Force That through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower" is time, it's pretty obvious that time is a major player in this one. It's in every stanza and it affects… well, everything. In each stanza, Thomas demonstrates time's far-reaching, awesome power by using some pretty crafty metaphors and a pinch of personification to boot.

Questions About Time

  1. Before Thomas named the force specifically in stanza four, had you already guessed what the force was? If you had, what tipped you off? If you didn't, what kept the mystery alive?
  2. Thomas uses a bunch of time metaphors in this one. Which was your favorite and why? See if you can come up with your own version of a Thomas-like time metaphor. (No rainbows or unicorns allowed—Dylan wouldn't like that.) 
  3. Do you think it's possible that the force could be something other than time? What makes you think so? If it isn't time, what do you think it is? Why?

Chew on This

Thomas uses "the force" metaphor for time in an effort to emphasize the mystery and the power of time. That's because we are desensitized to the word "time." He wanted something that would pack more punch (ka-pow) and reflect time's duality, its simultaneously creative and destructive nature.

Thomas's poem would have been stronger if he had used the word "time" in stanzas 1-3 instead of relying on metaphors. By obscuring time with metaphor, Thomas diminishes the poem's power for most readers.

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