The Poems ‘Childhood’ by Frances Cornford and ‘My Parents’ by Stephen Spender Both Have a Speaker Looking Back in Time

Topics: Social class, Poetry, Middle class Pages: 2 (570 words) Published: March 12, 2011
Essay One - Poetry

The poems ‘Childhood’ by Frances Cornford and ‘My Parents’ by Stephen Spender both have a speaker looking back in time. However, they differ significantly in many areas. Such as, in form, as Childhood only has one stanza and My Parents has three, tone, Childhood having a tone of confusion and My Parents with a tone of envy, and also in theme, Childhood portraying the theme of an adult looking back at her ‘helpless’ childhood and My Parents looking at the sheltered life of a child in middle compared to the unsheltered life in working class.

The form of Childhood and My Parents is significantly different. Childhood is set out with one stanza and uses rhyming couplets, however in the last four lines the couplets are changed because of the Volta. In the poem Childhood, punctuation is very important in portraying the tone of the speaker, for example before the Volta the line is shorter than others and also has a full stop to create a dramatic pause. My Parents, however, is written in three stanzas with no rhyme. There is also little punctuation throughout the poem and therefore creates a faster poem.

Childhood and My Parents differ significantly in their tone. The speaker of Childhood, which could be assumed as an adult looking back at their childhood, begins the poem with a tone of confusion when she states ‘I used to think’. However, throughout the poem the speaker understands the idea that no matter what age, everyone is in a sense of childhood. This is shown when the speaker says ‘and I knew then that she was helplessly old, as I was helplessly young’. My Parents, however, begins with a fearful tone, which is shown when the speaker repeats ‘I feared’. However, as the poem goes on a sense on envy appears when the speaker says ‘I longed to forgive them’.

The themes of Childhood and My Parents also differ extensively. Childhood embraces the idea that no matter what age everyone is in a sense of childhood. The speaker discovers this...
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