Writing poetry: The power of simple words and clear imagery

“The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees
Is my destroyer…”

These first three lines from a poem by Dylan Thomas are a good example of the strength and power of using language that is not ornate, not complicated, and not obscure.

This poem, The Force That Through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower, has an important quality particular to good writing.

Namely, the words do not get in the way of the message.

Lines six to eight continue with the same direct appeal:

“The force that drives the water through the rocks
Drives my red blood; that dries the mouthing streams
Turns mine to wax…” (1)

The words are simple; the references and images are readily visualized.

The meaning of the poem could be interpreted, at least in my personal view,  as being that there is a primordial unifying force in the universe. a force within nature than connects everything.

Regardless of how we interpret this poem, however, the overall impact of the poem is direct..

Paraphrasing a quote of which I have forgotten the speaker:

The words are for children, but the meaning is for grown-ups.

Dennis Mellersh

On YouTube there is an audio video of Thomas reading the poem to an audience. The audio quality is not as good as his studio recordings, but it does demonstrate the power of the poem and also the value of hearing poems spoken rather than only viewing them on a printed page:


(1) From the book Dylan Thomas Miscellany, published by J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd.


About Dennis Mellersh

Dennis Mellersh is an independent writer, journalist, editor, and editorial consultant.
This entry was posted in The creative process in Poetry, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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