May 28, 2014

Spring and Dylan Thomas' "The Force that through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower"

I'm pretty sure I was a college freshman when I first encountered Dylan Thomas' "The Force that through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower," and I'm pretty sure I had no clue what it meant or why anyone would write such a thing or why I was in college or where Wales was or why anybody lived there instead of Ohio.

Well, here is the poem again. I think it's one of the great works about the mysteries and rhythms of all kinds of life. And death. Yin and Yang, I suppose. Libido, broadly defined, and Thanatos?

In the photos from early May, a Great Egret kept retrieving sticks for his nest. (For obvious reasons, I'm making him a hard-working male). I don't know how it could have been clearer that a natural force was driving him to go fetch and to come back, again and again. And maybe that force is larger and more complex than anyone can explain. Hence, the repetition of "I am dumb."

Dylan Thomas claims it's that same force that drives a flower through its stem (its "fuse") and propels a human through his green age, even though it's also the force that brings death to lovers and to us all. The poem is an interesting combination of elegant, romantic, musical language and thought with a realistic insistence that what lives also dies.

I especially love these lines:

And I am dumb to tell a weather’s wind
How time has ticked a heaven round the stars.

Dylan Thomas may be as romantic and effusive as e.e. cummings about nature, but maybe Thomas is more realistic and complex. Opinions?



Brenda's Arizona said...

I like much of the imagery, but the "I am dumb" leaves me cold. Mother Nature does her 'thing' whether we like it or not?

Banjo52 said...

Brenda, glad you're back! I hear it sort of the way you do, though I'd say Mother Nature does her thing whether or not he and we can express it--or maybe whether or not we can understand it intellectually.

Julie Brown said...

Interesting and thought-provoking post.

Ken Mac said...

Dylan Thomas supposedly still haunts the old White Horse tavern on Hudson in the West Village

Rune Eide said...

Your photos are of their usual standard, but I find that Dylan Thomas is only telling me I was born and that I shall die some day (and I already knew that) in a very convoluted way.

Stickup Artist said...

Guess I'm the only one so far, but I'm just as "dumb" in the presence of all that is...

Banjo52 said...

Julie, thanks.

Ken, some used to say it was America (I suppose NY especially) and fame that killed him young. Do you know if that's still the perception?

RuneE and Stickup--I bet a lot of readers would side with one or the other of you. Is DT's exuberance simply over the top and "convoluted" in expressing the obvious, or are the effusiveness and complexity of expression essential to his thoughts about nature, life, and death?

Anonymous said...

Rune made me laugh.

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