The force that through the green fuse drives the flower

Brief commentary on this Dylan Thomas poem by J. Bronowski.

As in many of the Dylan Thomas poems, the central thought here is simple. It consists of the confrontation in each verse of the same ideas. One is the idea of green fuse, the power in nature that drives everything forward; we feel this, we share its activity, and its makes us feel stronger and bolder with each experience, and life and time to be on our side.

The second idea in each verse is that we are, however, being destroyed by this very same power. We are getting older, life and time are killing us a little with each experience.

I suggest reading the first verse again; it shows the contrast of the two meaning clearly — the predicament of all living and growing things..


The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees
Is my destroyer.
And I am dumb to tell the crooked rose

My youth is bent by the same wintry fever.
The force that drives the water through the rocks
Drives my red blood; that dries the mouthing streams
Turns mine to wax.

And I am dumb to mouth unto my veins
How at the mountain spring the same mouth sucks.
The hand that whirls the water in the pool
Stirs the quicksand; that ropes the blowing wind
Hauls my shroud sail.

And I am dumb to tell the hanging man
How of my clay is made the hangman’s lime.
The lips of time leech to the fountain head;
Love drips and gathers, but the fallen blood

Shall calm her sores.
And I am dumb to tell a weather’s wind
How time has ticked a heaven round the stars.
And I am dumb to tell the lover’s tomb

How at my sheet goes the same crooked worm.

– Dylan Thomas


From The Poems of Dylan Thomas, published by New Directions. Copyright © 1952, 1953 Dylan Thomas.

5 Responses to “The force that through the green fuse drives the flower”

  1. October 1, 2007 at 3:04 am

    “I am familiar with the wet destiny of water
    and the green habit of trees.”

    love your sensitivity to life! read a little bit of SEPEHRI if you get a chance:http://earthfamilyalpha.blogspot.com/2007/09/sohrab-sepehri-poetry-and-art.html

  2. October 1, 2007 at 3:50 pm


    This is one of my special favourite poems – when I discovered Dylan Thomas in the University Library, I guess I was barely 16, and hurried thru’ his poems including this one that seemed to be popping up from an umpteen number of anthologies that taught me good taste.

    Then Bob Dylan happened.
    It was serendipitious that my favourite folk singer should have been inspired by a poet who was to become my favourite poet some time later… synchronicity!

    Reading Dyland Thomas, and particularly this poem that has a prophetic, visionary sound to it and that speaks of truths as old as rocks and the clay and the lime and our bones… well it made immense sense.

    Reading it now as I dangle my feet in my grave, the ‘gravity’ of this forceful has become graver…

    Hats off to your choice, if I were to be stranded on a Desert Island with just 10 poems, this would be one of them.

    J. Bronowski has written a tight little review, and would like to google him/her.

    Thanks again, regds


  3. 3 Entropy
    October 1, 2007 at 3:52 pm

    Hey Michele

    Thanks for connecting the dots…
    and introducing to beauty of Sohrab Sepehri’s poetry

  4. 4 Entropy
    October 1, 2007 at 5:08 pm


    Once again gratitude for your words of appreciation ..

  5. 5 Jonathan
    March 5, 2009 at 10:15 pm

    Make sure you pay attention to your stanzas. These are wrong, and affect the meaning of the poem

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