Background• Allen Curnow was one of New Zealand’s mostcelebrated poets. He died in 2001 at the ageof ninety. He once said that some of his poetrytried to explore ‘the private andunanswerable’.
Personification• The second and third stanzas capture a certainrestlessness and the man’s inability to sleep or‘think thoughts’. From his porch he looksacross the privets and palms of his garden atthe night sky, ‘a washed-out creation’- ‘a darkplace’. Both of these phrases havemetaphorical associations as well as literalmeaning.
• He observes two clouds: ‘one’s mine / theother’s an adversary’. Why is one cloud his,and in what way? In respect of the othercloud, dictionary definitions of ‘adversary’ arehelpful: ‘opponent in a contest or conflict’, aforce that opposes or attacks’, ‘enemy’. Whichof these meanings do they feel is moresuitable here, and why?