The Force That through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower

The Force That through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower Quotes and Analysis

The force that through the green fuse drives the flower/Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees/Is my destroyer.

Stanza 1

Throughout these lines, the speaker uses powerful, aggressive language—"force," "fuse," "drives, "blasts," "destroyer." The speaker begins by immediately linking nature to humanity, stating that the force that moves through a flower's "green fuse," or stem, to "drive" it to bloom also moves within him in his "green age," or youth (when he is figuratively green like a young plant.) The flower is blooming brilliantly, just like a light attached to a "fuse" shines. Yet this force has a darker side—it also "blasts the roots of trees," a violent image, and is the speaker's "destroyer." Just as the flower must die, so must the speaker. Paradoxically, the image of the “fuse” represents both the organic life-force of a plant, and the inorganic, mechanical power of electricity, again juxtaposing the living and its opposite, the inanimate.

The force that drives the water through the rocks/Drives my red blood; that dries the mouthing streams/Turns mine to wax.

Stanza 2

These lines elaborate on the connection between nature and the human body the speaker proposed in the first stanza, creating a comparison between water flowing in a river and blood flowing in the body, both of which are “drive[n]”—another powerful verb like those in the first stanza, referring again to the "force." Additionally, the force also has a negative side, draining life in the streams of water and blood, as well as sustaining it. The personification of the “mouthing” streams furthers the comparison between the body and the river.

And I am dumb to tell the lover's tomb/How at my sheet goes the same crooked worm.

Stanza 5

In the previous stanza, the speaker associates love with water and blood, which links it to life. Yet here, the lover in the tomb links it to death. The phrase “crooked worm” ties back into the “crooked rose” of the first verse, but while the rose is associated with life and energy, the worm represents death and decay. It is perhaps the worm that makes the rose crooked, eating away at it and seeping its life away, but the parallel use of “crooked” suggests that the worm will ultimately meet the same fate. Furthermore, since the worm eats the rose to survive, life and death are deeply connected—the worm causes the flower’s death in order to maintain its life. Similarly, the worm eats at the “sheet”—a burial shroud. Shrouds are created by people to sanctify and make peace with death, but the poem suggests that these rituals that people create cannot truly protect against death and decay, just as the shroud is eroded by the worm.