The force that through the green fuse drives the flower

Here is Dylan Thomas eloquently describing the inexorable effects of the passage of time, of decay and aging, on himself, on humanity in general and on the beauties of nature. The same processes are in play whether it be a flower, a spring or a man – young, healthy, beautiful and vigorous one day, bent, withered and fading away not long after. Unlike the Baroque poets, this is purely descriptive, accepting of this reality – there is no carpe diem moralising here. Somehow, it is more powerful that way.

The force that through the green fuse drives the flower

Dylan Thomas, 1914 – 1953
The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees
Is my destroyer.
And I am dumb to tell the crooked rose
My youth is bent by the same wintry fever.

The force that drives the water through the rocks
Drives my red blood; that dries the mouthing streams
Turns mine to wax.
And I am dumb to mouth unto my veins
How at the mountain spring the same mouth sucks.

The hand that whirls the water in the pool
Stirs the quicksand; that ropes the blowing wind
Hauls my shroud sail.
And I am dumb to tell the hanging man
How of my clay is made the hangman’s lime.

The lips of time leech to the fountain head;
Love drips and gathers, but the fallen blood
Shall calm her sores.
And I am dumb to tell a weather’s wind
How time has ticked a heaven round the stars.

And I am dumb to tell the lover’s tomb
How at my sheet goes the same crooked worm.

From <https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/force-through-green-fuse-drives-flower&gt;

The structure of the poem is to build each stanza around a different metaphor of he aging process, first describing it in nature and the making the parallel with the poet’s own, human experience. The cumulative impact of this imagery is powerful and accentuated even more by those final two lines which stand alone – the worm of decay is eating away at the lover’s tomb and the poet’s own body.

Not so much carpe diem as memento mori, in poetic form.

The Poetry Dude

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s