Continuum by Allen Curnow

Authors Avatar by rashjoy (student)


The poem ‘Continuum’ by Allen Curnow revolves around the central theme of poetic inspiration, how it ebbs and flows. He describes himself and his thoughts on a particular night, when he is unable to sleep because his mind is alive and restless. He seems to be in the grip of a poetic impulse that struggles for expression within him. This poem is the medium through which he conveys his experience, and he does so in a very interesting manner.

‘Continuum’ begins with a striking image of the moon “roll[ing] over the roof” and falling behind the poet’s house. It is an animated image of the moon, which has the lucidity of a child’s imagination and so successfully grabs our attention. But even as the reader reacts with mild surprise and pleasure at the novelty of this queer idea, the poet cuts us short with a very matter-of-fact and obvious truth: “the moon does neither of these things”. Curnow is referring to himself. The image of the moon may be interpreted as a symbol of his unsteady train of thought. This and the contradiction thus serve to establish the confusion and indecision in the poet’s mind. Also, the moon is a symbol of poetic muse. Thus the falling moon becomes a metaphor for his sinking poetic abilities. The moon is supposed to be steady but it has lost its balance, as if to suggest that poetic inspiration is not a steady source; it waxes and wanes like the moon.

Join now!

The poet tries to sleep but cannot. There seems to be a conflict between the man and his muse: the man must get some sleep but the poet inside him cannot put his thoughts to rest, agonising over a vaguely formed idea that he is unable to articulate. He feels that, rather than struggle with himself over sleep, he should go outdoors. Nature and the outside world seem to be the source the poet relies on to stimulate the creative thoughts in his mind. Interestingly, the poet leans “from” his porch, “across” the privets and “into the washed-out creation”. His ...

This is a preview of the whole essay

Here's what a teacher thought of this essay


This is a useful piece of analysis, brimming with ideas about the meaning of this difficult poem. Some of the analysis is a little too speculative and not sufficiently supported by the textual references. Paragraph control, sentence structure and lexis are managed at a very high level. Phrasing in particular is highly polished. Quotations are skillfully merged into the text of the essay. The work here would merit 5 stars but for some of its more speculative elements and its unsatisfactory concluding paragraph. 4 stars