The Slow Starter

A watched clock never moves, they said:
Leave it alone and you’ll grow up.
Nor will the sulking holiday train
Start sooner if you stamp your feet.
   He left the clock to go its way;
   The whistle blew, the train went gay.

Do not press me so, she said;
Leave me alone and I will write
But not just yet, I am sure you know
The problem. Do not count the days.
   He left the calendar alone;
   The postman knocked, no letter came.

O never force the pace, they said;
Leave it alone, you have lots of time,
Your kind of work is none the worse
For slow maturing. Do not rush.
   He took their tip, he took his time,
   And found his time and talent gone.

Oh you have had your chance, It said;
Left it alone and it was one.
Who said a watched clock never moves?
Look at it now. Your chance was I.
   He turned and saw the accusing clock
   Race like a torrent round a rock.

— Louis MacNeice

3 Comments on “The Slow Starter”

  1. feesh

    What is the they in stanza being reffered to can someone explain this poem a little

    • me

      They is probably referring to MacNeices piers. She refers to MacNeice’s poetic talent, and it refers to MacNeices poetic talent after it has died (she/he pronouns refer to things alive, and it refers to inanimate objects).


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