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Literary Analysis: Dylan Thomas' "The Force That Through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower"

Updated on January 16, 2013

Dylan Thomas's "The Force That Through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower" was included in Dylan Thomas’ collection namely 18 Poems(1934).It represents the basic elemental force of Nature that embodies the meanest form of life and yet holds the intriguing power to sustain it. This elemental force is similar to the Shelley’s West Wind in it being both preserver and destroyer. This paradoxical nature of the force that permeates Nature is its hallmark. ”Green’ is at once the symbol of fertility and prosperity. The 22 lines are divided into four stanzas of five lines, rounded off with a coda at the end.

The energy “drives the flower”: it enables the blossoming and fruition of nature. The word ‘fuse’ connotes explosive or exponential growth that this force is capable of. And more significantly, it drives his green age; it renders him evergreen not only biologically but also in terms of spirit. There is use of hyperbatic(inverted) word order to underline the revolutionary zeal of the force and its enforcing quality. The rose is a pervading symbol of the brevity of life as echoed in the poems with the ‘carpe diem’ motif. The poet is at a loss for words to tell the ‘crooked rose’ ravaged by the onset of this inexplicable phenomenon,that he too has been bent by the ‘wintry fever’. The phrase is a combination of death and disease as echoed by the words ‘winter’ and ‘fever’respectively. It is also an oxymoron in itself as winter is cold and fever is characterized by heat. It blasts the very root of trees as it uproots them from their very base. Therefore, though it sets the foundation for life, it also deprives them of the same. The force permeating through the whole universe is emblematized by the force working through the body and manifesting itself through bodily functions.

The force that drives water through inanimate objects of Nature like rocks, circulates blood within his body. It also possesses the destructible capacity to dry the streams and render the kinetic blood into static wax. Blood with its colour red reflects the vivacity of this force. The spring at the mountains is sucked by the same mouth that it sprouts from.

The hand that churns the whirlpool and quick sand is just one aspect of this indiscernible energy ,that ropes the wind and enables the smooth sailing of his boat. Note the juxtaposition of the words ‘shroud sail’. Here, ’shroud’ may signify the funeral shroud. At the same time, the use of ‘sail’ metaphorically sounds the smooth sailing of life metaphorically. The poet also assures the hangman that the place where he is heading towards(mud)is the same substance that they were created with, in the first place. Therefore by the image of the so-called substance, the dual nature of this force is illustrated yet again. The poet is ‘dumb’ to explain this phenomenon to the hangman as it is unfathomable. This aspect highlights the cyclical nature of this force. The beginning of every second stanza with a verb points to the continuity of the same.

The instinctive force that instructs the leech to suck blood from its source to sustain itself, also teaches it to lose blood for the delivery of its baby. The loss of the blood lends the mother a soothing effect. Therefore ,though the force teaches the leech to take, it also trains it to sacrifice willingly. The poet is at a loss for words to explain to the weather’s wind subject to changing climes, how Time-the universal destroyer has embedded a constant heaven around the stars.

The coda states that the worms that decompose his lover at her tomb, is the one that feeds on his sheet at the act of sleep. Through this imagery, sleep is magnified and death is condensed through the paradox of this inscrutable force.

© Rukhaya MK 2012

The content is the copyright of Rukhaya MK. Any line reproduced from the article has to be appropriately documented by the reader. ©Rukhaya MK. All rights reserved.

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