How do the exceptions to the poem’s structure reflect and strengthen its subject matter?
In the third line of every stanza, Thomas breaks the pattern of iambic pentameter that most of the poem follows—these lines are about half as long as the pattern would suggest. In doing so, Thomas emphasizes these lines, particularly their final words—all of which deal with the destructive power of time. He also changes the metrical pattern in the second line, placing the stressed “drives” where an unstressed syllable should be. This similarly emphasizes the unconventional word choice. In addition to underscoring the poem’s most important themes, these breaks in the pattern of the poem contribute to the unsettling nature of the poem. Furthermore, since a poem’s meter is dependent on time, variations in the meter play with time, a central theme.
How does the poem represent the creative process itself?
Throughout the poem, the speaker finds himself “dumb”: incapable of voicing his wonder and terror at the power of time. “Dumb” takes on its traditional meaning of being unable to speak, of course, but since Thomas was fond of American slang, its modern meaning of unintelligent can apply as well—the speaker is incapable of properly capturing his emotions through words. In this manner, the poem details the difficulty of the creative process and the impossibility of truly rendering one’s feelings and environment into words.