Continuum, by Allen Curnow, is a unique poem that explores very interesting themes regarding writing and thought. The poem revolves around a poets inability to find inspiration and ideas for a poem and highlights themes like Poetic Inspiration, Writers block and the ebb and flow of thought. Poetic inspiration is an essential part of writing poetry and in Continuum, Curnow attempts to get his motivation from the environment and the night sky. He conveys the necessity for poetic inspiration very effectively through his own desperate attempt to find ideas and inspiration
Writers block, the condition of being unable to think of what to write or how to proceed with writing, is a compelling issue faced by many writers. In Continuum, we get a glimpse of what it really is like. This is a major problem for Curnow as he struggles to find ideas for his poem. The final theme of the ebb and flow of thought is beautifully portrayed in the Continuum where the poet acquires ideas but they swiftly slip away with the change of his mood. It implies the mercurial quality of mind and shows the quick discovery and disappearance of thoughts.Order now
The title, Continuum, suggests a tedious, unrelenting cycle; an unceasing, arduous series which is the process of writing a poem. It is the acquisition and the abating of ideas that goes on again and again. The title is very fitting and a good exposition to the poem. The structure of Continuum tends to reflect the content of it. The absence of a rhyme scheme shows disorganization and vagueness of the poet’s thoughts. Curnow also uses the technique, enjambment, wherein the last line of a verse runs into the first line of the next verse. This shows discontinuity and unsteadiness in his thoughts. The overall structure of continuum adds to the theme of writer’s block and to the ebb and flow of thought.
The literary devices that Curnow uses in Continuum are potent and effective. Curnow uses a lot of imagery: “the moon rolls over the roof and falls behind”. It provides a creative vision that strikes as poetic and imaginative. However, he breaks the poetry with a confession that it is simply himself rolling off the roof. This facilitates a contrast between his artistic soul and his practical self and also illustrates the theme of writer’s block. He also uses tactile imagery in “the chill of the planking underfoot rises”. The imagery reiterates his failure as a cold and sinister feeling that sends him retreating after his disappointment. He uses alliteration in the 2nd verse in “better barefoot it out”. This creates a poetic effect that comes and goes with his unsteady stream of thought.
Curnow uses the sky as a metaphor for his mind, which is a very long and continued metaphor. The moon represents his thoughts and hence it rolls off the roof to illustrate its inconsistency, the “bright, dusted clouds” are his ideas that float around in his head. The wind is his mood that blows this way or that, taking the ideas with them. The usage of the sky as a metaphor for his mind insinuates the theme of poetic inspiration.
Curnow also uses metaphors in the last verse to communicate his failure in finding inspiration. “Picks up his litter and his tools”. The litter is a metaphor for his failed ideas and his tools are a metaphor for his mind that analyses the ideas. This emphasizes his defeat due to lack of substantial inspiration. Overall, I feel that Allen Curnow has infused many profound themes in Continuum very effectively. His effective use and of title, structure and literary devices all accentuate the themes and make them very powerful.