Analysis of the poem ‘Childhood’ by Frances Cornford
I think that the message of the poem ‘Childhood’ by Frances Cornford is that no matter how old or young someone is their age will always control them. It’s about how children may believe that adults are all-powerful, but really they are just as helpless to time moving on. This meaning is communicated through a range of different techniques. Cornford uses imagery to show her negative views about old age. In the first part of the poem, she believed that adults “chose” to grow old and “have stiff backs”. “Stiff backs” could suggest that she thought adults were figures of authority which intimidated children. She also uses the simile “Veins like small fat snakes on either hand”. Snakes are unpleasant creatures and many people fear them, so the fact that Cornford used this simile could mean that when she was younger she was afraid of adults and felt uncomfortable near them. But then from line five onwards, the speaker has a change of heart. She describes an event which she vividly remembers, when she saw her great-aunt Etty’s friend “grope” the floor after “her onyx beads had come unstrung”. These two lines are very powerful as they are the epiphany when the speaker realises that adults are not as powerful as she first believed. Cornford uses the verb “grope” to show how the old woman was no longer able to move quickly and was desperate to find them. This desperation shocks the speaker as it isn’t something she would associate with adults. The “onyx beads” could symbolise death (as they are black in colour) and how the woman is struggling with the thought that she has no control over time. The rhyming scheme of this poem also communicates Cornford’s beliefs about old age. In the first half of the poem, when the speaker thinks that adults chose to become old, the poem is written in rhyming couplets. But in the last four lines, the poem breaks away from this structure. The point in which the pattern changes is when...
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