Continuum – Allen Curnow – Analysis


The moon rolls over the roof and falls behind
my house, and the moon does neither of these things,
I am talking about myself.

It’s not possible to get off to sleep or
the subject or the planet, nor to think thoughts.
Better barefoot it out the front.

door and lean from the porch across the privets
and the palms into the washed-out creation,
a dark place with two particular

bright clouds dusted (query) by the moon, one’s mine
the other’s an adversary, which may depend
on the wind, or something.

A long moment stretches, the next one is not
on time. Not unaccountably the chill of
the planking underfoot rises

in the throat, for it’s part the night sky empties
the whole of it’s contents down. Turn on a bare
heel, close the door behind

on the author, cringing demiurge, who picks up
his litter and his tools and paces me back
to bed, stealthily in step.

Allen Curnow (1911 – 2001)

Title – continuum – something without ending, in relation to a poet – the continual creative thinking

S1 – The moon rolls over the roof … well of course the moon does not do that … a poetic personification … and quite rightly AC is talking about himself how he articulates the action of the moon … maybe he has been watching it for some time … in S2 we see the link of rolls over with the fact that AC cannot sleep. Presumably not able to sleep and being a poet decides to put pen to paper (does a poet ever stop being a poet the continual process in action).

S2 – Well AC can’t sleep, nor stop thinking about not sleeping, or anything else, nor to think thoughts – you can’t think thoughts – thoughts just come and when you are sleepy they can be all over the place … better to get out of bed and do something physical … barefoot it out the front

S3 – washed-out creation … an appropriate way of expressing the night surrounds as AC himself maybe washed-out not able to sleep

S4 – The moon dusts the clouds … AC queries whether this is the right choice of word to explain the effect of the moon. Dust implies a light colouring and often not seen until close-up, perhaps there is a better word, we will never know. One’s mine – this is AC’s dust poetic definition in opposition to the ‘dusting’ caused by the wind or something else unknown.

S5 – time varies one moment is many moments at times as he sits sleepless … only to be brought to attention by the chill of being outside with bare feet … the night sky empties it’s contents down … a clear sky perhaps a frost is coming … time to go inside out of the cold

S5 – closing the door on the creative process of the poet … demiurge = influential force, perhaps showing some modesty in regard to his creative self … it is as though this force is personified picking up his litter (paper that he has been using), tools (pen) and paces him back to his bed … closing the poet-self.

Allen Curnow is a re-known New Zealand poet who won the Queens Gold Medal for poetry in 1989 and brought New Zealand to the fore poetically. A link on Wikipedia.

I am reminded of the Ted Hughes poem ‘The Thought Fox’. Another night time poetic creation on the creative process. An internet link to analysis of this poem (courtesy of Richard Webster).

Your word in my ear ...

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