‘Mean Time’ Commentary
‘Mean Time’, a poem by Carol Ann Duffy, reflects on time, change, and a loss of love. Duffy demonstrates how the movement of time is ‘Mean’ and responsible for complete change and loss. The words ‘slid’ and ‘stole’ in the first two lines create a sibilant speech sound with a hissing effect, which embodies an evil and sneaky tone to represent time passing by as it takes away the ‘light’ and happiness. The notion of loss is heightened by the connotations of death in the following lines, ‘I walked through the wrong part of town, mourning our love.’ This represents that the relationship ending feels equal to the loss of life. The words ‘walked’ and ‘wrong’ present a sense of wavering hope and a wandering feeling, emphasizing the confusion and regret towards the relationship.
The second stanza continues with a melancholic tone. ‘Unmendable rain’ mentioned in line 5 indicates that there is nothing within the narrators control to change the rain as it is broken just like the stolen love and happiness that used to be felt. The streets the narrator walks on are described as ‘bleak’, which presents a miserable and dreary image. The following line indicates how narrator feels their ‘hearts gnaw’ at all of their mistakes. The word ‘gnaw’ represents intensely eating away at something possibly because of anxiety or grief. The personification suggests that the narrator is unable to move on from the relationship as the heart painfully revisits the mistakes that were made.
Duffy continues to demonstrate a regretful feeling that overcomes narrator in the third stanza. The whole stanza, ‘If the darkening sky could lift more than one hour from this day there are words I would never have said nor heard you say’ represents the wish for the occurrence of a different series of events, where the ‘Mean Time’ did not take away the happiness and different decisions could have been made in the relationship to prevent the loss.
In the last...