Fern Hill

Fern Hill Themes


Time in “Fern Hill” is so omnipresent that it’s often personified, acting as a playmate for the speaker of the poem. At first, time favors the speaker, allowing him to play freely and happily, but inevitably, time robs him of his childhood joy. Time is in control throughout the poem—though it “lets” the speaker play at ease, it is ultimately the authority that demands the loss of his innocence and exiles him from his Eden.


In “Fern Hill,” youth is portrayed as a time of divine, godly innocence, directly comparable to Adam and Eden before the Fall. As a youth, the speaker is happy and carefree, and even his eventual corruption and loss of innocence occurs through no fault of his own, unlike that of Adam and Eve—after all, he can’t stop himself from aging. But as wonderful as youth is, the speaker describes it as an inevitably ephemeral time.


Ignorance is bliss in “Fern Hill,” and the speaker’s naïve childhood is the happiest time of his life, one he longs to return to. As discussed with the theme of youth, the speaker considers himself too naïve and innocent to truly be to blame for what he has lost, though he wishes that he had thought to appreciate it more.