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Comparison Of Dylan Thomas' Fern Hill And Robert Frost's Birches

2273 words - 9 pages

Comparison of Dylan Thomas' Fern Hill and Robert Frost's Birches

Poets often use nature imagery to comment on the relationship between
humans and the natural environment surrounding them. Traditionally,
this relationship is portrayed in a positive manner as it places
emphasis on the concept that nature is representative of beauty;
consequently, embracing this representation will enlighten the human
experience. The facets of that relationship are represented within
Dylan Thomas' "Fern Hill" and Robert Frost's "Birches". Both poets
invoke an image of nature that is picturesque, serene and innocent in
order to convey a message that one can have a fulfilling life if they
focus on the beauty that exists within the primary world. Conversely,
Coleridge's "Dejection: An Ode" contains a different interpretation of
what one's relationship with nature should involve. The speaker feels
that a simple appreciation of beauty is insufficient; one must
identify with that beauty through the soul in order to be enlightened.
Despite the fact that "Fern Hill" and "Birches" initially appear to
express satisfaction about the value of superficial human experiences,
when analyzed in conjunction with "Dejection: An Ode", the meanings of
these two poems are altered. Frost's "Birches", Thomas' "Fern Hill"
and Coleridge's "Dejection: An Ode" all convey different levels of
dejection upon initial examination; however, when contrasting the
expressions of the speaker and the imagery patterns of the poem, these
levels of dejection become increasingly ambiguous.

The relationship between the speaker and the natural environment is
essential in recognizing the levels of dejection that exist in the
three poems on a superficial level. In "Dejection: An Ode", the
speaker, who can be identified with Coleridge himself, exhibits sorrow
in his inability to find inspiration in the natural beauty that
surrounds him. For this poet, finding solace in the natural world on a
superficial level is insufficient; one must have an emotional
connection to the beauty of nature. In his past experiences the
speaker could appreciate this beauty in a superior way as it, "sent
[his] soul abroad" (Coleridge 183); however, in his current state he
can only "see, not feel, how beautiful [nature is]" (184). As a poet
who derives his inspiration from the surrounding world, the fact that
he cannot connect with the sublime beauty of nature is problematic for
him; thus, it causes his unhappiness. Coleridge's poem represents the
highest level of dejection because the natural world becomes
meaningless to him without the transcendental inspiration he was once
able to obtain by examining it.

Thomas' poem represents an entirely different level of dejection than

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