The Force That through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower

The Force That through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower Dylan Thomas and Nature

“The Force” is one of many Dylan Thomas poems relating to nature, which is one of the most characteristic themes of his oeuvre. Whether detailing his childhood in Wales, as in “Fern Hill,” or philosophizing about life, death, and the passage of time as in “The Force That Through The Green Fuse Drives The Flower,” nature is never far from Thomas’s mind. “As nature is all we have, and all I am is a man, I’m quite interested in man and nature,” he wrote.

Yet Thomas rarely approaches nature in the pastoral form common among earlier poets, which depicts naturalized landscapes in an idealized manner. Instead, his observations about nature are nearly always tied to a deeper theme, often the essence of life and death themselves, and they take on a chilling and disconcerting tone rather than a comforting one. “Thomas’ frequent observation of immaculate beauty in nature reflects the impact of the Romantic poets on him,” argue Lekha Rani Singh and Usha Jain. It is in part because of this deep appreciation for nature, which ties him to the Romantic poets, that Thomas is so difficult to categorize as a poet; though he is typically viewed as a modernist poet and was influenced by symbolism and surrealism, Thomas’s poetry also harkened back to that of earlier romanticists. Most of his poems deal with nature at least to some extent, and in many of them, it is central. “For him nature is neither a superficial pastoral escape nor simply a source of didactic sentiments: it represents the vital life-force in the universe,” John Ackerman asserts. “Thomas went beyond the simple division between human civilization and nature, seeing man as existing in a state between the two, transiently linked with human civilization but having come from and ultimately returning to ‘the green good,’” he continues. In this manner, the central theme of “The Force”—the intrinsic connection between humanity and the natural world—is also arguably the nucleus of Thomas’s work.