Half-past Two



Once upon a schooltime


He did Something Very Wrong


(I forget what it was).


And She said he’d done


5  Something Very Wrong, and must


Stay in the school-room till half-past two.


(Being cross, she’d forgotten


She hadn’t taught him Time.


He was too scared at being wicked to remind her.)


10  He knew a lot of time: he knew


Gettinguptime, timeyouwereofftime,


Timetogohomenowtime, TVtime,


Timeformykisstime (that was Grantime).


All the important times he knew,


15  But not half-past two.


He knew the clockface, the little eyes


And two long legs for walking,


But he couldn’t click its language,


So he waited, beyond onceupona,


20  Out of reach of all the timefors,


And knew he’d escaped for ever


Into the smell of old chrysanthemums on Her desk,


Into the silent noise his hangnail made,


Into the air outside the window, into ever.


25  And then, My goodness, she said,


Scuttling in, I forgot all about you.


Run along or you’ll be late.


So she slotted him back into schooltime,


And he got home in time for teatime,


Nexttime, notimeforthatnowtime,


But he never forgot how once by not knowing time,


He escaped into the clockless land for ever,


Where time hides tick-less waiting to be born.



Posted in Poetry Blog Tagged with: , , ,
24 comments on “Half-past Two
  1. Profile photo of Vicky Murkett says:

    Fanthorpe uses the lexical choice of fairytales throughout the poem. ‘Once upon a schooltime’ is the first part of the poem that portrays an innocent tone which is continued throughout, however, in all fairytales there is villains and monsters which need to be over come which could suggest that the innocence is not all that it seems. This is further evidenced by when he finishes the poem with ‘he never forgot … he escaped’ suggesting that when time was not a concern he was able to ‘escape’ contradicting the simple and sweet idea of a fairytale.
    Another theme which is strongly focused on is the concept of time and even more a child’s view on time. Here the poet constantly puts forward the notion of time through the child’s’ actions and thoughts compared to when time is put into numbers and limits ruled by the clock. The child’s life is simplified into very organized and recognized actions, but actual time has no meaning. The poet speaks so fondly of this attitude towards time that it could symbolize how he doesn’t have much time left as it is told as a story and the ending is him in the present.
    A way in which the poet expresses a child like feel to the poem is also through structure as it is set out in consistent lines of 3 in each stanza. There is also 11 stanzas which could symbolize the 11 hours of the day or 11 main parts of the day such as ‘TV time’ which further interlinks with how time is presented.
    A significant time which is talked about is the ‘Something Very Wrong’. Its important enough to the child to include and capitalize but isn’t explained. This could link to innocence as the child see’s something that obviously doesn’t matter to be important but also doesn’t dwell on what he’s done. The poet then completely juxtaposes the significance by talking in present tense ‘(I forgot what it was)’ implying that through experience the problem he faced as a child can’t compare to the ones he has now.

  2. Profile photo of Deana says:

    The poem presents the subject of time as viewed from a child’s prospective. The poem portrays the child’s innocence from the routinely actions in the child’s life, however actual time has no meaning. It also reminds people of the older generation how nice it was to be a child as time was of no concept, and this was probably one of the main reasons for the author writing in the role of a child. Even though the child is unable to tell the time he has the ability to divide the day into identifiable and recognizable events such as “timeyouwereofftime” and “Timeformykisstime”. The theme of innocence is clearly used throughout the length of the poem through certain poetic devises that the writer used (the structure and language). “…the clockface, the little eyes And two long legs for walking” conveys the child’s naivety as it shows that children’s minds trail of into their own imaginations. Also the writer starts the poem of with “Once upon a…” which is a typical beginning for a child’s fairytale story.

    The only ‘real’ use of time is in the first stanza when the teacher tells the boys that he must stay till half past two after school. This confuses the child as he is not familiar with the use of time (and this shows an error in the lessons taught by the teacher as he should have been taught this concept). Moreover the teacher is portrayed in a goddess-like way of high importance, because the child refers to her as ‘She’ with a capital s which highlights he sees her as a person of great significance to him.

  3. Profile photo of Lauren McCorkell says:

    ‘Half-past Two’ is a poem by U.A.Fanthorpe and shows how it is possible to get lost in time.

    The poem is very childlike and tells a story of a child not having being taught the time yet. The poem begins with “Once upon a schooltime” giving connotations of a fairytale/story that is being told to the reader. Automatically you think this poem is going to have some childhood themes within it because of the connections between the phrase. Throughout the entire poem you see a lot of childlike implications “Something Very Wrong” is the type of phrase a child would use and the grammatical mistakes throughout highlight how uneducated because of age this child is.

    However, the childlike themes are also juxtaposed with the idea of an adult voice telling us the story “(I forget what it was)” sounds as if it is an adult telling us a story about their childhood or on the other hand they cold be telling us someone else’s story. I think Fanthorpe does this to show the reader how a tale like this is something this adult wishes to remember and was a significant experience for them. I think that this exemplifies the message in the story.

    The poem goes on to show how because this little boy does not understand the concept of time “he escaped into the clockless land for ever”. I think the poem is trying to imply that does it really matter what the actual time is, maybe we get too hung up on the fact that time is limited. I think the author is trying to say how if you get things done why does the time of day actually matter. The poem reminds you of the fact that it seems in human nature for us to label things and organize it, for example, “Gettinguptime”, but is it actually possible to label something as abstract as time itself.

    “Where time hides tick-less waiting to be born” gives the idea that time is something created by humanity and it does not actually exist.

  4. Profile photo of Rhianna King says:

    The poem ‘Half-past Two’ displays ideas about the importance of time.

    The entire poem narrates an event in a child’s life- detention. However, Fanthorpe also lists other important events to a child such as “Gettinguptime”, “Grantime” and “teatime” all of which, to a child, are important events. However, by the use of naming events like waking up in the morning as times like ‘Gettinguptime’, it is clear that although the child does not know how to tell the time, he has a strong concept of time through the events and routines in his life. This therefore suggests that it does not actually matter about the specific times like 7 o’clock but rather that we should prioritise the events and people in our lives.

    Furthermore, the child is described as knowing “All the important times…/But not half-past two.” Which suggests that once again time is a non-important concept which, although we obsess ourselves with, has no actual reason to be deemed so important as the boy still does and goes to all the events like “Grantime” without knowing what the actual times are in terms of hours, minutes and seconds. Therefore, Fanthorpe suggests children have the right mind-set and adults do not. This is further iterated as time is given a capital letter which suggests importance; however, by saying “important times he knew” it presents children as knowing the true important aspects of time and that adult ideas of ‘time’ is not actually of any importance.

  5. Profile photo of Sofia says:

    In the poem ‘Half past two’ U.A. Fanthorpe presents the importance of time from a child’s point of view.
    The poem starts with “Once upon a schooltime,” Here the poet uses the semantic field of childhood because the phrase, ‘once upon a’ has connotations of fairytales as it is a common phrase used in many fairytale openings. The poet also merges the events and time together conveying that they are the same. The structure of poem can also portray childhood; because there are only three lines in each stanza it can represent the small steps of childhood. Furthermore, there are three hands on the clock as well as three lines in each stanza.
    The poet mentions that he child did know the important times. “All the important times he knew,” This quotation displays that he recognised time as being events and not actual times of the day and does not understand the link between the two. He just remembers them as being, “Gettinguptime, timeyouwereofftime,” which is suggesting that all the times that he has learnt from adults but has not learnt properly. It could be saying that time is not important to him and does not matter because people are not time and what really matters is the event that you are doing because in reality time is an invention which adults envy of the child.
    The sixth stanza is referring to a childhood imagination. “He knew the clock face, the little eyes,” Here this quotation points out that the child see’s clocks everywhere but does not understand the concept of it and what it actually is.

  6. Profile photo of Hannah Gillespie says:

    The poem Prayer Before Birth was written by Louis MacNeice during the second world war. MacNeice shows innocence in many different ways.
    The title ‘Prayer Before Birth’ shows that the speaker is talking to God through the use of the word ‘Prayer’. The title shows that the only time we are truly innocent is before birth and soon after we are corrupted when we enter the world. At the ends of each first line of every stanza, there is a list of instructions, “O hear me”, “console me”, Provide me”, “forgive me”, “rehearse me” and “O fill me.” These instructions seem to be the child in the womb asking for help to stop him from becoming human. The entire poem is about the concept of innocence and the corrupting nature of human’s existence.

  7. Profile photo of Hannah Gillespie says:

    The poem Half-past Two was written by U.A.Fanthorpe, it is spoken from the perspective of an older man reflecting back on the moment in his childhood when he had a naive, subjective concept of time.

    The first line says, “Once upon” which is the semantic field of childhood and fairytale. Childhood is shown throughout the whole poem, for instance “Something Very Wrong”, this phrase is given capital letters showing it is important making it seem childlike. However, there is a voice in brackets which is the voice of an adult, “(I forgot what it was)”. Throughout the poem times are presented as events and not numbers, merging them so event and time are one.

  8. Profile photo of Phoebe Cushion says:

    The poem ‘Half past two’ by U.A. Fanthorpe uses the semantic field of childhood.
    The child in the poem does not yet understand that the concept of time is measured by numbers and not events, and does not yet see the link between the two, due to his age, so the poem is conveying the concept of time through a child’s perspective.
    Therefore, the fact that he is told to stay behind until ‘Half Past Two’ has no-meaning to him because he has no concept of ‘time’.
    The punctuation and language is used by the writer to represent the psychology of the child in the poem. The ‘times’ that the child knows,for example, “Gettinguptime”, are written in a way that exemplify his misconception of time. Because there is no separation between the words, this suggests the child thinks of events as a way of telling time.
    “He knew the clockface, the little eyes And two long legs for walking.” This use of personification and figurative imagery represents the psychology of the child and that he acknowledges clocks but does not understand them.

  9. Profile photo of Evelina Peterson says:

    The poem ‘Half-past two’ written by U.A. Fanthorpe portrays how the daily actions of a child’s life are more important than the actual time of them; showing how easy it is to actually get lost in time. The use of an opening such as ‘Once upon a schooltime’ gives the connotations of a fairy-tale with the use of such semantic field. The use of innocence is continued throughout the whole of the poem giving the idea that a child’s life I simplified into organised actions which are easily recognisable, meaning that he doesn’t need to know the actual times. “Something Very Wrong” uses capitalisation in order to show importance, as young children are often told to give capital letters to important people and place. However, the fact that it is not further explained also links to innocence, as younger people are often not told the ‘whole story’ in order to protect them. The poet mentions that the boy indeed does know ‘some’ time, “He knew a lot of time” meaning that he only knew time which he deemed to be important, yet also shows the lack of understanding between time and the event.

  10. Profile photo of Ellie says:

    In the poem ‘Half-past Two’ by U.A. Fanthorpe it portrays semantic field of language of childhood and fairytales as where on the first line it mentions “Once upon a schooltime” and this has connotation of childhood and stories.
    The idea of time throughout the poem is illustrated as events not actually the times of the day. “gettinguptime, timeyouwereofftime” this conveys by merging the words together because the child does not actually understand the difference between event and the times.
    “He knew the clock face, the little eyes and the two long legs for walking” this portrays the childhood imagination by not recognising the clock as telling the time but as the clock actually being a decoration.
    Furthermore the narration of the poem is from the adult reflecting on his behaviour as a child. “(I forget what it was)” this portrays himself reflecting on his childhood. However this juxtaposes the idea of doing something wrong as he has forget it. This could demonstrate how what he done could not of been that bad but when your a child things seem more important and worrying than what they actually are.

  11. Profile photo of Sophie says:

    In the poem ‘Half-past Two’ written by U.A Fanthorpe, it describes how a young child is given a detention as a result of the childs actions by his teacher. The poem portrays the events as they would have been seen through the child’s eyes. The author emphasises the main characters childish characteristics, by conveying that the boy has no real concept of time. Therefore organising his daily routine only in terms of events that are taking place, such as ‘schooltime’, ‘lunchtime’, ‘hometime’. By doing so the author conveys the ease of childhood in comparison to adulthood – in terms of children do not force themselves to abide by the self imposed pressures of time. Fanthorpe comes across as nostalgic for the simpler life of the child described and perhaps even his own childhood.

  12. Profile photo of Georgina King says:

    The author of ‘Half-past Two’ U.A.Fanthorpe writes the poem in a nostalgic and upbeat manner, with short stanzas that reminisce on a childhood event. Childlike notions such as “Once upon a” are used throughout the poem to create whimsy and reinforce the ignorance of children compared to adults. Many words are merged to present events in the place of time as the child spoken of is yet to distinguish between the two. “He knew a lot of time: he knew Gettinguptime, timeyouwereofftime” shows that the child identifies events in the place of actual times, and makes up words to help them understand. Due to the merging of words, they are read faster than they would be if separated. This could be showing that childhood goes quickly when being reflected on by an adult. Creating these words also implies that as a child, you do not feel or are not restrained by grammatical rules; you have a greater freedom during childhood as you are not expected to know certain information, such as that of telling the time. The poem describes a child being told off which, as a memory, would not be thought of as pleasant. However, the poet displays contentment and nostalgia throughout the poem which can be viewed as being the result of the freedom which comes with being a child. Not knowing how to tell the time along with other learned skills leads to a greater amount of imagination and freedom of thought allowed during childhood.

  13. Profile photo of Jake Leggat says:

    In the poem ‘Half-past Two’, the poet puts forward the notion of time from the Childs perspective. In doing this we realise that Fanthorpe believes that as a child it is not important to understand the concept of time, because you should enjoy your childhood while it lasts. She puts across this idea by making the event the time. For example, she says ‘Gettinguptime’, where you can’t distinguish between the event and the time. She Continues to use this technique throughout the rest of the poem, which further enforces the idea that children do not need to understand the concept of time. Fanthorpe also writes ‘All the important times he knew, but not half past two.’ By saying that ‘Gettinguptime’, ‘TVtime’ are important shows that the child knows all that he needs two know, because she is describing the time half-past two as unimportant to the child.

  14. Profile photo of amy p says:

    The poem ‘Half-past two,’ portrays childlike innocence and is reminiscent of the authors/narrators childhood. The quote “Something Very Wrong,” highlights how when you are a child you think that everything is important however when you grow older, you realize that certain things are insignificant. As a child you are taught to put capital letters for important things which is why the words are written in capitals however this is juxtaposed by the phrase ‘something,’ as although the quote is written in capital letters, the narrator cannot remember what it was that happened.

    The first words of the poem are ‘once upon a time,’ conveys imagery of fairy tales, further portraying innocence. In addition the line “he couldn’t click its language,” shows how as a child the narrator saw clocks everywhere but did not know what they were or how they worked. Furthermore the word ‘language,’ indicates how the author saw it as a strange or foreign object.

  15. Profile photo of Brooke Roberts says:

    U.A.Fanthorpes poem ‘Half past two’ portrays strong links, through the title and the entirety of ther poem to time.

    An important aspect to the poem is that Fanthorpe includes three lines per stanza. This digit shares a relation to the three hands on a clock face. Another link to time is that the use of fabricated words such as ‘timetogohomenowtime’ occur twelve times in the poem which is equal to the twelve hours in a day. This repeated link to time emphasises the importance of the time in the poem and how, althugh it plays a huge part in the poem, it is simply worthless to the child. The idea of the childs and it’s means of prioritising is again brought up when he uses a capital letter for ‘She’ when describing his teacher. The fcat that children are taught, from a young age, to give capital letters to things of importance implies teachers and in this case carers have more importance than time.

  16. Profile photo of Katie Scott says:

    The poem ‘Half-past Two’ by U.A.Fanthorpe begins with the phrase “Once upon a…” which is very typical of the semantic field of childhood and fairytales, suggesting that the poem is story like or targeted at children. Alternatively, it could be targeted at adults, deliberately using childish techniques in order to condescend the reader or perhaps encourage them to remember their own childhood.
    The capitalisation of the lexis “Something Very Wrong” marks its importance, which at the time of innocence during childhood, getting into trouble seemed to be the most significant and terrifying occurrence. The lexis “Time” is also capitalised to signify importance, which introduces the theme of embarrassment within the poem, as the child understands the importance of telling the time but is unable to do so.
    Throughout the poem, a juxtaposing voice is portrayed within brackets that appears to be the voice of the speaker reflecting back on this childhood.

  17. Profile photo of Rhianna Creasey says:

    The poem half past two by U.A Fanthorpe shows how time is judged in a child’s view. It shows that time is irrelevant but the actions itself are important. The poem is based on the basic thoughts of a child and how The child’s life is simplified into very organized and recognized actions, but actual time has no meaning. Children are not rushed and ruled by the clock like adults are. It also reminds us of how nice it was to be a child and not have to worry about those things, therefore shows that the innocence of the child juxtaposes the experience of the adult.

    Not only that, but there are three lines in each stanza which could represent the three hands on a clock. Also, half past two uses onomatopoeia to represent the ticking sound of the clock. Half past two also uses alliteration. In “Half-past Two”, the phrase ‘time hides tick-less’ is used to convey the sound of a clock ticking.

  18. Profile photo of charlie says:

    Half past two is written like a child would write it which highlights that the poem is in the view of a child. There are 3 lines in each stanza to represent the 3 hands on a clock. “He Did Something Very Wrong” is referring to a spelling mistake the use of the word “very” and the capital letters portray that spelling is a very important part of a child’s education and that getting the spelling wrong is worth punishment. ” I forget it was” highlights the forgetfulness which children have. The poem evokes that the child gets the concept of time but not for example 7 o’clock to him it’s waking up time. “gettinguptime, timeyouwereofftime” merging time and events together portrays that time and events are the same thing to the child which highlights that the child believes that time does not matter and isn’t real. “but he couldn’t click its language” portrays that the child sees it as a foreign language and cannot understand it. The poet uses an oxymoronic “silent noise” as noise cannot be silent.

  19. Profile photo of Jessica mccullagh says:

    The poem “half-past two” has a major theme of childhood throughout, this is shown when the first two words are “once upon” which is distinctive language from the semantic field of childhood. It highlights the importance of events in a Childs life instead of actual timings. Alternatively this could be a technique used by Fanthorpe to encourage adults to remember their childhoods. By saying “Gettinguptime” the poet is merging words together so that the event and the time are the same thing, suggesting that he learnt he associates words with times of the day instead of actual times. Also only a handful of times are mentioned thus only important times are mentioned and the rest are unimportant. Also the capital letter at the start also highlights importance, as when you are young you are taught to give capital letters to something of importance.

  20. Profile photo of Yasmin Aumeeruddy says:

    ‘Half-Past Two’ by U.A. Fanthorpe is written from the perspective of a child in order to highlight the innocence and unawareness of someone so young. “Once upon a schooltime” The poem is introduced with a phrase that is often at the beginning of a fairy tale. “Once upon a…” This semantic field indicates that the poem would be describing an event in the past that occurred when the speaker was very young, thus, Fanthorpe was innocent at the time. Another aspect of the poem that would be linked with childhood is the structure. There are eleven stanzas made up of three lines each. This consistent, simple structure relates to children. Furthermore, the innocence of the child is also portrayed as the words ‘School’ and ‘Time’ have been merged together so they appear as the same thing. This conveys the little knowledge that the child had at the time and how the child relies on the adult’s repetition of the phrase to assume that there is no link between a time and event.

  21. Profile photo of Sophie Thomas says:

    Half Past Two written by U. A. Fanthorpe expresses many various thoughts and feelings surrounding the various themes and subjects in which Fanthorpe uses.
    Throughout the poem Fanthorpe uses a plethora of references to time and various ways in which it is preserved by different people. The character, ‘the boy in detention’, refers to time as events rather than actual numerical times. “Gettinguptime, timeyouwereoffnowtime, Timetogohomenowtime, TVtime…All the important times he knew”. Here we can see how the boy knew the time by individual important events which were frequent occurrences in his life. It also suggests that he had no need to know ‘actual time’ and portrays the difference between a child’s life and an adult’s life and various responsibilities and the change in the structure. The abstract time’s portray the innocence and carefree nature often associated with childhood.
    Fanthorpe later writes “And knew he’d escaped for ever, Into the smell of old chrysanthemums on Her desk”. The idea that the boy had ‘escaped’ into the smell is also an abstract idea in which runs in cohesion with the abstract time the boy uses. This further highlights the innocence and the insight into the mind of the child in which the reader experiences.

  22. Profile photo of Meg Abery says:

    In the poem ‘Half-past two’ written by U.A.Fanthorpe the theme of innocence is highlighted throughout the poem with a vast number of poetic devices, structure and placement of words.
    Fanthorpe has illustrated a child with no real concept of time. This is illustrating the innocence of the child. The child only understands times that is regularly used throughout his life. Being placed outside his ‘time zone’ in the poem has immediately confused him is shown with the use of Caesura is used to break the rhythm of the poem child it has made him began to panic. This has an effect on the reader that are they consistently stuck in a time space where they look at a clock understanding the times but only think about their daily routines of it. This is similar to the child in the poem who only looks at the clock at certain periods of the day where he can understand it such as ‘schooltime’, ‘lunchtime’, ‘hometime’. This conveys that even people that are able to tell the time do not read it as number but read it as a period of the day. This implies that even though it shows innocence towards a child it is what they keep with them as they grow older and be unaware of it.

  23. Profile photo of jenna says:

    “Half-past Two”, written by U.A. Fanthorpe, is a poem illustrating the way in which children go about telling the time. The poet makes it clear that the child is oblivious to the fact that there is such thing as time, however they have their own way of knowing their schedule. Words such as “schooltime” and “teatime” are used by kids to acknowledge what part of the day it is. U.A. Fanthorpe includes twelve of these childlike time phrases throughout the poem which links directly with the twelve hours of the waking day. This idea further illustrates that in childhood events are of more importance than time.
    A link between the focus and the structure of the poem is that in each stanza there are three lines. This could be linked the the three hands on a clock face; hours, minutes, seconds.

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