Explain what kind of poem the poem "Time" by Allen Curnow is?I am the nor'west air nosing among the pinesI am the water-race and the rust on railway linesI am the mileage recorded on yellow signs.I...

Explain what kind of poem the poem "Time" by Allen Curnow is?

I am the nor'west air nosing among the pines
I am the water-race and the rust on railway lines
I am the mileage recorded on yellow signs.

I am dust, I am distance, I am lupins back of the beach
I am the sums sole-charge teachers teach
I am cows called to milking and the magpie's screech,

I am nine o'clock in the morning when the office is clean
I am the slap of the belting and the smell of the machine
I am the place in the park where the lovers are seen.

I am recurrent music the children hear
I am level noises in the remembering ear
I am the sawmill and the passionate second gear.

I, Time, am all these, yet these exist
Among my mountainous fabrics like a mist,
So do they the measurable world resist.

I, Time, call down, condense, confer,
On the willing memory the shapes these were:
I, more than your conscious carrier,

Am island, am sea, am father, farm, and friend,
Though I am here all things my coming attend;
I am, you have heard it, the Beginning and the End.

Asked on by kharsa

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

This poem, "Time," by Allen Curnow, is a personification poem.  Personification is giving human qualities or characteristics to things which aren't human or aren't living.  In this case, the speaker of the poem is Time.  Time is given many qualities in this work which, of course, time does not have.  We think the speaker is Time from the beginning; we know it for certain in this stanza:

I, Time, am all these, yet these exist
Among my mountainous fabrics like a mist,
So do they the measurable world resist.

He, Time, says he is all the things listed in this work--air, dust, music, farm--things which he can not really be.  Line after line of images add to the picture we have of Time.  

The use of personification in this poem works in much the same way as a metaphor does.  (For example, if one is grumpy in the morning one might say "I am a bear today.")  If the word Time were not in the body of the poem, it could also be considered a riddle.  A similar work is entitled "Mirror," by Sylvia Plath. 

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