The Force That through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower

The Force That through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower Literary Elements

Speaker or Narrator, and Point of View

The speaker’s identity isn’t clear, although he’s likely young, considering his reference to his “green age.”

Form and Meter

Four quintains with an iambic meter—generally iambic pentameter except for the third line of each stanza—and an ending couplet.

Metaphors and Similes

"My youth is bent by the same wintry fever": Time eventually destroys the speaker's youth, just as a fever sickens and endangers someone.
"Turns mine to wax": Time will one day still the speaker's blood when he dies, turning it into a wax-like substance.
"At the mountain spring the same mouth sucks": Time is personified, figuratively sucking at the spring to symbolize it drying over the course of time.
"The hand that whirls the water in the pool": Time is personified again in this line, given a hand with which to disturb a pool of quicksand.
"That ropes the blowing wind": Time can seize control of the wind, which in turn controls the motion of a ship.
"Hauls my shroud sail": Time moves the speaker's sail forward.

Alliteration and Assonance

alliteration: “force that through the green fuse drives the flower,” “mountain spring the same mouth sucks,” “shroud sail,” “time has ticked”


The second to last stanza is an example of situational irony: the speaker knows that the force acts through his mouth, but is "dumb" and unable to use this mouth to describe the force.




Various scenes in nature


Passionate, overwhelmed

Protagonist and Antagonist

Major Conflict

Life and death


The first mention of time in the first line of the fourth stanza, which makes the identity of the force explicit.




“shroud sail”—allusion to the Greek myth of Theseus

Metonymy and Synecdoche


“to tell the crooked rose,” “at the mountain spring the same mouth sucks,” “to tell a weather’s wind”