“Fern Hill” tells the tale of a man’s transition from a carefree childhood to a regretful adulthood and his struggle to come to terms with mortality. Time does not last forever and it is often that time is taken for granted because of the distracted disposition of a child. The lack of a reflective consciousness and not being able to appreciate every moment in life leads to regret. Through the use of poetic devices and biblical allusions, time is portrayed as a power that holds youth hostage and strips them of innocence.
Throughout this poem, time is personified as a ubiquitous and controlling force that taints the naivety of youth. The speaker describes his childhood as a blissful and carefree existence in which, “time let [him] hail and climb” (4). In this way, time is a looming presence that seems to watch over and allow him to briefly enjoy his childhood. It is evident that as the poem continues time’s hold on the speaker becomes progressively stronger as he becomes more aware of its existence. Enforcing the idea of youth being temporary is the use of diction. The poem begins with a light and happy mood which proceeds until the third line of the second stanza, providing the first insight into the speaker’s knowledge of the inevitable loss of time. The careful placement of words, alliteration, and abrupt beat present in “the sun is young once and only (12),” helps to reinforce the theme that time is short-lived and will eventually come to an end. Reflecting back on his