Line-by-line Analysis of ‘Continuum’ by Allen Curnow

Continuum by Allen Curnow

Lines 1-2) The poet creates an image of night-time and describes the rising of the moon as the night progresses. He metaphorically hints at his frame of mind. The moon in the poem symbolizes the human mind, while the house is symbolic of the body. In the first line itself the poet makes it clear that he is referring to his frame of mind metaphorically.

3) Curnow discloses that he is combating some kind mental block that is preventing him from deriving enough inspiration to write.

4-5) The poet explains his dilemma as not being able to get over the writers-block or think of any other subject or get distracted by random thoughts.

6) Curnow believes that he needs to confront the problem by thinking about it and finding a solution.

7-8) Using the door and the privets (shrubery) as representatives of his metal block, he believes that he needs to confront the obstacles and solve the problem. Curnow uses the phrase “washed out creation” that is symbolic of his tired mind and the on the physical plain, the night.

9-10) The poet believes that he can see two clouds, bright but hazy, near the moon and wonders what they represent. The clouds are symbolic to the mental haziness he is combating.

11-12) The poet recognizes this symbolism and identifies one cloud as his own frame of mind and the other as that of an adversary or contemporary. This is symbolic of the change he expects, in the form of motivation from an outside source. In these lines, the wind is symbolic of change; he believes that there is scope for change and a major paradigm shift, which will take place in good time.

13) The poet becomes aware of time not passing by quickly and personifies the moment with its ability to stretch endlessly.

14-15) Curnow talks about the next moment not arriving on time, thus making the present unbearable. He becomes aware of his hopeless situation. He uses the chill of the night rising from the floor as a metaphorical inference representing his consciousness.

16-17) Becoming aware that he cannot deal with this situation right away, he turns to nature for comfort. Curnow personifies the night by giving it the ability to shroud the earth with darkness and offer respite to tired humans.

18) Coming to terms with his condition, he understands that the best way out is to rest a while and tackle the issue the next day. He mentions the need to close the door on the author.

19-20-21) Curnow personifies the night as being able to function as an instrument of God designed to help man to rest and feel refreshed. He believes that the night urges him to get back to bed quietly, which metaphorically means to combat the problem later.

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