In his poem “Time,” Curnow uses a number of techniques to present his topic. The most obvious of these is the repetitive use of the phrase “I am…” This subject and verb pair begins the first 11 lines of the 19-line poem. It both personifies the concept and creates a type of artificial rhythm. Each line provides an apparently random description of human activities, both pleasant and unpleasant. The algebra class, lovers’ meeting, and belting are all listed with almost bewildering randomness.
Although more subtle, the “I am…” phrase remains prevalent in the final lines of the poem. The obvious repetition in the majority of the poem has created in the reader the expectation of the “I am.” The almost hypnotic rhythm created by the majority of the poem is no longer consciously necessary. It is now part of the poem and the reading experience.
This also serves an interpretive function. Time is also part of the reader’s life. It is part of every human being’s life. It is impossible to escape, even if it is not a conscious part of human activity.
The final line of the poem emphasizes this. Although the conscious rhythm has been broken, it remains the underlying theme of everything: the beginning and the end.