“Fern Hill” by Dylan Thomas

Farmland near Llangain, Wales where the Fernhill house is located. PHOTO CREDIT: David Medcalf. This photo is licensed under the the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

“Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs
About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green,
     The night above the dingle starry,
          Time let me hail and climb
     Golden in the heydays of his eyes,”1

The speaker in Dylan Thomas’s “Fern Hill,” reflects on his childhood in the idyllic and pastoral area around Fern Hill, where he spent his time playing among fields and farms, where he was “the prince of the apple towns,” and “happy as the heart was long.” The poem’s music created by varied sound devices combine with rich imagery of the countryside to call forth an image of paradise. However, throughout the poem, the child’s playfulness beneath the the running sun and the rising moon is at Time’s mercy, which had both granted the speaker the opportunity to play while also stripping his childhood away.

The U-shaped house in the center of the map appears to be Fernhill. Can any one confirm this from firsthand experience?

Until he was eleven years old, Dylan Thomas often visited his Uncle Jack and Aunty Ann at the Fernhill house near Llangain, where they were tenants. While the lush countryside is most clearly evoked in the poem, the house itself has its own long history. A small gentry house built in 1760, the house was believed to have a “hangman’s cell,” used by the local hangman. The story, though known by Dylan Thomas, is not likely to be true. The British Listed Buildings website gives the location for the house as “Situated to the W of Fernhill Brook, on the N side of a minor road to Llangynog village which is some 3 km to the W,” along with the coordinates: “51.8157, -4.3606.” [Selecting to view the map above in Google Maps, will allow for a street view that gives a glimpse of what appears to be the house.] The county of Carmarthenshire, where Llangain is located, is a fertile agricultural area known as the “Garden of Wales.”

Read “Fern Hill” in its entirety on Poets.org. Read more about Llangain, Wales on Wikipedia. Find The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas at a local library or on Amazon.

1Thomas, Dylan. “Fern Hill.” The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas. New York : New Directions, 2010. Print.

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