“The Force That Through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower” was published as part of Dylan Thomas' first collection of poetry, 18 Poems, which was published to great acclaim in 1934, when Thomas was only 19 years old. The book helped Thomas earn a reputation as a talented young poet. “The Force…” also contains what would become some of the defining themes of Thomas’s work, such as life and death, time, and nature. In the poem, Thomas uses images of the ephemerality of nature to illustrate the mortality of humans as the speaker expresses his astonishment at the force of time.
The poem takes the form of four quintains, or sets of five lines, with an iambic meter, plus an ending couplet, or set of two lines. With the exception of the third line of each quintain, the lines are in iambic pentameter, which means that they consist of five metrical feet, each one comprised of one unstressed syllable, then one stressed syllable. For example, in the first line and title of the poem—"The force that through the green fuse drives the flower"—"the" is unstressed, then "force" is stressed, then "that" is unstressed, and then "through" is stressed, and so on.
Central to the poem is the inextricable tie between humanity and nature, a theme that reappears in Thomas's work. In this poem, this theme is used to underscore the fleeting, impermanent nature of human life over the course of time. “The Force That Through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower” has left a mark on later art, inspiring a set of paintings by Welsh artist Ceri Richards and lending phrases to Beat poet Allen Ginsberg's famed "Howl."