Non-linear Subjectivity in Dylan Thomas's 'Fern Hill': A Lacanian Reading


12th International IDEA Conference: Studies in English, Antalya, Turkey, 18 - 20 April 2018, pp.1

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Summary Text
  • City: Antalya
  • Country: Turkey
  • Page Numbers: pp.1
  • Akdeniz University Affiliated: Yes


This paper presents a Lacanian reading of Dylan Thomas’s ‘Fern Hill' written after Thomas’s visits to Fernhill which comprised one of his life’s great formative experiences; Thomas, throughout the poem, expresses his sense of lack through his use of words associating his childhood with its intimations of mortality and beautiful rurality, and his consciousness of the power of the nature. In ‘Fern Hill’, the poetic persona lapses from the linearity of the Symbolic to the non-linearity of the Imaginary, therefore the poem is dominated by a cyclical concept of time. Nature is the determining element in his conception of time and he is at one with nature. His wholistic perception of nature also leads to a non-linear or pre-Cartesian conception of space in the poem. In fact, there is temporalisation of space and this leads to different forms of timespaces in the course of the stanzas. It is because of this merging of time and space, and relapse into the imaginary non-linearity that this paper aims to explore the poem  against the backdrop of Lacanian ideas of the development of human psyche in three orders; Imaginary, Symbolic and Real. By striving to read the non-linear subjectivity of the speaking self in ‘Fern Hill’, this study articulates that the relation between both the unconscious and poetry reflect ontologically and epistemologically structured reals instead of being akin to that between cause and effect.

Keywords: Dylan Thomas, Jacques Lacan, Fern Hill, Non-linear Subjectivity, Psychoanalytic Subject