July 26 Frances Cornford: The Watch

Anyhow, just got a job! Hooray! Yesterday was my first day, so I was a little discombobulated, sorry I missed! Hadn’t worked in a while so had to get used to a different pace.

So, speaking of pace, this one is all about pace. You can definitely hear the pace in this one. You know that forever forward march toward mortality. “One day closer to death,” says Pink Floyd. I’m still on the subject of Sound in poetry, so this poem is a study of how the poet uses the sound of the pace of words to imitate the subject of the poem (a watch that just ticks, ticks, ticks, ticks forward every day and all the time). It is almost as if the person has become overcome by the watch, has become the watch, that she has become the watch.

She makes it sound as if she is terminally ill, she “wakened on [her] hot, hard bed” and she if feeling a throbbing, even though it comes from the watch, in reading this, I get the feeling that the pain is deeper in her bones and she is ailing “I am so sick, so sick, so sick.” But time just moves forward, forward. It seems to be a terror to her haranguing her with its constant forward motion. At first the poem is speaking in ordinary sentences (though they do seem to have a steady beat), then her words start to imitate the watch (when she rhymes with tick with so sick, so sick, so sick). The last two lines are almost all clock, just a repetition of “come quick, come quick, come quick.” The exclamation mark at the end always makes me progressively read the line louder and louder until it finally hits its dramatic end.

Oh boy, drama.

Here’s the poem. Enjoy!

The Watch

by Frances Cornford

I wakened on my hot, hard bed,
Upon the pillow lay my head;
Beneath the pillow I could hear
My little watch was ticking clear.
I thought the throbbing of it went
Like my continual discontent.
I thought it said in every tick:
I am so sick, so sick, so sick.
O death, come quick, come quick, come quick,
Come quick, come quick, come quick, come quick!


About penneloppe

I like to write horror, dark fantasy and crime fiction. Sometimes, I'll write science fiction, but usually I like to write science fact. I also write screenplays and stage plays. My day job is office work. I live in Seattle and I have a cat.
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