Bewitching Compulsion

‘The force that through the green fuse drives the flower’

Dylan Thomas


The Force That Through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower
Ceri Richards

I read an interview with Julia Cameron (nothing to do with David) that referenced this line and it bewitched me instantly. It seems to encapsulate exactly and succinctly what I had endeavoured to convey recently. The beauty of the phrasing making clear the compulsion of every plant, and all creatures, to thrive as best they are able.

The first stanza is the easiest to understand:

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 analysis linked below considers ‘blasts the roots’ solely as a destructive force but it reminds me of germinating bean seeds at school where the seeds were grown with toilet roll tubes in a jar so that the class could see the process. We think of blasts as being quick but plants do appear to blast out of seeds, in slow motion. I suggest this memory as an addition to the more academic analysis; it supplements another contrast of generation to balance against the destruction. Thomas appears to be implying that the vigour of the compulsion becomes depleted through bearing hardships and afflictions, the ‘wintry fevers’, which only the very young could disagree with. So many of us have recent experience of shivering through fevers that the simile requires no further explanation. The crooked rose, or a storm twisted tree, bear the signs of their afflictions too, so though we all begin with the perfect blueprint, life marks the experience of our process. Sometimes, I think that academics need to at least look out through the nearest window and get a grasp of the physical world *sigh*.

I found this analysis illuminating and clarified parts, though in a post structuralist interpretation, the reader is free to determine their own understanding. I don’t ‘get’ all of the poem, but Thomas seems to have understood exactly what I was attempting to articulate about plants in his first line.

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