Piano and Half Past Two portray two different experiences of childhood. Show how successful each poet has been in presenting an aspect of his childhood
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Piano and half past two are both poems that refer back to childhood memories but while U.A.Fanthorpe (half past two) starts off as a child and matures as the poem goes on, D.H.Lawrence (the piano) is the adult who, having suppressed all his feelings and emotions, is cast back into his childhood.
U.A.Fanthorpe uses the extended metaphor of liberation towards the end of the poem – Liberation from the adult-time, liberation from the carefully scheduled school, and liberation from everything orderly. Only as a child and one that has no concept of time could he have escaped into timelessness. “and he knew he’d escaped for ever” Fanthorpe uses the poetic technique enjambment at the end of the paragraph to emphasise the jump into timelessness. This jump is the escape out of the world of time and into a world ruled by objects and senses. With the arrival of the teacher, time resumes, slotting the boy back into time. D.H.Lawrence also explores the idea of escape – an escape from adulthood back in time to the memories of a child. “Back down the vista of the years” The word vista emphasises the great distance between the child’s view of the world and his later adult perspective. The regular stanza lengths at the beginning enact the calm ordered structure of this childhood he has escaped to, however D.H.Lawrence breaks down at the end, the stanzas lengthening as he loses controls of his emotions because of the responsibility that adulthood has brought.
The clarity and detail of the boy’s memories in piano are astonishing, particularly in the aural imagery. This highlights the fact that he was obviously extremely close to the mother at the time. “The boom of the tingling strings” The love and connection of the son and mother is palpable. This is in direct contradiction of the adult-child relationship we find in half past two. In half past two, the continual themes throughout the poem are that of neglect and inattention. “Timeformykisstime (that was Gran time)” The only time he would get a kiss was with his gran. His parents are never around to love him. “My goodness she said I forget all about you” The fact the she never noticed his absence demonstrates carelessness and an
innate callousness. When he attempted to tell his parents about this “notimeforthatnowtime” he tried to tell his parents about his but was rebuffed .This is quite the contrast to those loving memories experienced in piano.
Fanthorpe and Lawrence both use predominantly visual imagery. This is how a child understands the world, being unable to comprehend neither words nor sentences. “Pressing the small poised feet”- he understands through sight and sound. “The clock face, the little eyes and the two long legs.” This personification of the clock shows he understands the world around him as only objects without meaning. He has neither understanding nor use of the abstract concepts that govern the adult world. “Gettinguptime, timeyouwereoff, timetogohomenowtime.” He doesn’t understand individual words; he understands phrases, linked to certain happenings at different times of the day.
Both have escaping from their current life and reality as one of the main themes of the poem. In Piano, he escapes from adulthood while in half past two he escapes into the eternity of timelessness. However, while the child in piano is remembering those times with love and weeping because of the emotional upheaval, the child in half past two remembers about how he is neglected and uncared for both by his teacher and parents. Both use similar linguistic techniques to emphasise the innocence and ignorance of childhood.
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