Theme: Childhood

Type: Free Verse


  • Tells the story of an incident in a young boy’s life – told to stay back in class as punishment for “Something Very Wrong” he had done
  • Forgetting is another key theme of the poem
  • The boy knows the important times of the day (to him) – doesn’t think the actual time is important
  • The teacher presented in an unfavorable light – a reference to her “scuttling in”

Beginning and ending

  • The opening line (“Once upon a schooltime”) is a variation of a classic fairytale opening
  • This line immerses us in the child’s world
  • Encouraged to think of it as a narrative story
  • Ends on a note of nostalgia – describing the time-free state


  • Personification – “time hides tick-less waiting to be born” – personifying time
  • Personification is also used on the clock to a person with legs and arms
  • Repetition used a lot
  • Anaphora is used – repetition of “into” at the beginning of each line
  • Oxymoron – “silent noise”
  • Onomatopoeia – “scuttling in” and “tick-less”
  • Sensory language – the smell of old flowers “silent noise”
  • Made-up words emphasize the child’s response to time and are very endearing and make the reader sympathize
  • These made-up words also enable the readers to see things from the child’s point of view

Form and Structure

  • 11 three-line stanzas
  • Simple structure and free verse contribute to the innocence of the child
  • Short verses echo the child’s made up chunks of the day

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