Category Archives: Project Three: Ways of saying and seeing

Fern Hill by Dylan Thomas

Close Reading

I found this particularly difficult as I had atrocious brain fog this year. A lot of distractions with my care agency handing my contract back to social services.

My first discernible thought is that the poem shows movement through time with seasonal references throughout.

“…happy as the grass was green”

A symbolic gesture towards spring, whereas later in the poem it nods towards the end of summer.

“…………………….., the hay

Fields high as a house,”

Ending with childless land and lamb white days, Thomas also reflects on the changing light through the seasons, from golden spring glow to white winter’s glare.

The imagery is vivid in this poem and it certainly brings images of farms and childhood. Of laughter and freedom. Lack of responsibility and growing. Using crops to symbolise the growing and maturing of a child into adulthood. The use of alliteration and consonance as poetic devices are apparent, even if Thomas’ lines are spread over many.

As to a rhythm there is one, its took me ages to find it.

My syllable counting of the poem.

Took me a whole evening to count the syllables in this poem to find a rhythm.

There’s a choppiness to the rhythm which I find reminds me of being easily distracted as a child. The meandering between activities, with school interjected between fun.

He also uses personification to add human qualities to the changing sun and seasons. I think this adds to the metaphors and enhances the symbolism of growth, time and life.

My scribblings on FernHill

I get to a point where I’ve read it so many times with brain fog that it becomes a jumble of words.

The last two lines confuse me. They seem to be referring to some constraint, and I can only allude to meaning, maybe the responsibilities which comes with adulthood, and with age, mortality.

“Time held me green and dying,

Though I sang in my chains like the sea”


Understanding Poetic Devices

Exercise 2 Finding examples.

Finding examples of poetic devices. 

  • Rhyme: I was reminded of Sassoon earlier when the unit asked me to remember poetry at school, so my first thought is to seek him out. A classic example of rhyming poetry. Dreamers by Siegfried Sassoon doesn’t disappoint.
  • Rhythm: I love Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets and am pulled to him for this next device. Although it also rhymes it’s the rhythm that has always attracted me to his writings. Song of the Witches by William Shakespeare
  • Repetition: Althopugh used in the coursebook as an example of Consance, this is also an example of repetition: “Do not go gentle into that good night” by Dylan Thomas
  • Alliteration: “Torn turned and tattered”  In my search for alliteration I hone in on a poem which covers so many devices I’m fascinated. 

The Labyrinth

Torn turned and tattered
Bowed burned and battered
I took untensed time by the teeth
And bade it bear me banking
Out over the walled welter
                                             cities and the sea
Through the lightsmocked birdpocked cloudcocked sky
To leave me light on a lilting planetesimal.

The stone walls wailed and whimpered
The bold stars paled and dimpled
Godgone time gathered to a grunt 
And bore me bled and breaking
On past parted palisades
                                           windrows and the trees
Over a windcloaked nightsoaked starpoked sea
To drop me where? Deep in a decadent’s dream.
  • Assonance: “Through the lightsmocked birdpocked cloudcocked sky”
  • Consonance: “Bowed burned and battered”
  • Personification: “The stone walls wailed and whimpered”
  • Metaphor: “I took untensed time by the teeth”
  • Onomatopoeia: All I can think of is Disney’s April Showers from Bambi.  All I can hear is drip, drip, drop!
  • Repetition: Also Disney’s April Showers, does a song count as poetry?
  • Simile: I include an excerpt below from Ode to the West Wind by Percy Bysshe Shelley
  • Imagery: I’m using the same poem. The descriptions are astonishing. You can smell the chill in the air.

“O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn’s being, 
Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead 
Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing, 

Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red, 
Pestilence-stricken multitudes: O thou, 
Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed 

The winged seeds, where they lie cold and low, 
Each like a corpse within its grave, until 
Thine azure sister of the Spring shall blow”

Project 3 – Ways of saying and seeing.

It’s strange to think back to school and my love of poetry. As a child who underwent elocution lessons to lose the Norfolk twang in my voice I remember repeating poetry over and over until I was singing along with my where, why, when and whats.
Then on to high school and exploring the first world war through poets, and Shakespeare through sonnets. Whatever happened to this? I don’t remember poetry as part of my A’level english. I presume I must have.

Choosing which poem contemplates the themes of place, was an interesting task.

All three evoke a sense of place, however I’d say that The Herefordshire Landscape by Elizabeth Barrett Browning only evokes a description of a place. I see no exile nor societal commentary amongst her words. 

I find the next choices hard, both Slough by John Betjeman ad The Lost Land by Eavan Boland contain elements of societal commentary. “…on everything they had to leave” certainly leans more towards exile. Equally though doesn’t “It isn’t fit for humans now,” also speak of exile. People aren’t there because they can’t exist there, rather than choice to leave? The description of tinned goods certainly adds a second world war identity to the poem.

If one belongs to one and not the other I’d say that Slough by John Betjeman was the societal commentary on progress and place, with The Lost Land being about identity and exile. Not convinced they’re not both talking about both!