Study Guide

The Force That through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower Youth

By Dylan Thomas


We know what you're thinking, "Hey Shmoop. What gives? You just finished telling us that 'The Force That through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower' is all about time's ultimate power and the inevitability of death. What's that got to do with youth?" That's a fair question. For someone to write a poem this charged and focused on the ravages of time, they have to be pretty concerned, perhaps even obsessed, with what they stand to lose. What does time steal? You guessed it: youth. The speaker's connection to his youth, and his knowledge that it is slipping away, are integral parts of this poem.

Questions About Youth

  1. Why did Thomas begin such a short, intense poem about the power of time and the inevitability of death with images and descriptions of youth? How would the poem be different if youth were never addressed?
  2. Thomas used the color green to represent youth in the poem. Was this a good choice? Why or why not? Can you think of any other colors that have an age association like green does?
  3. The speaker's youth is only addressed directly in the poem's first stanza. Why? How would the poem change if youth were addressed directly in every stanza?

Chew on This

Youth was the muse that inspired this poem. Thomas's keen sense of his own lost youth drives the poem and gives it great energy and vitality, despite the fact that the poem focuses more on death and destruction.

Not so fast there, whippersnapper. The theme of youth in this poem is secondary to primary themes like time and death. Youth in the poem, as in life, is merely a starting point that leads inevitably to death and decay. Yay?

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