Poem with an explanation: Three o’clock

At first the clock it does say three,
and then the eyes do look away,
and with hesitation they do look back,
and then away again.

The seconds pass as the Earth spins,
but for some time the zeros stay,
they seem to be so perfect and complete,
as they are there at three.

But time does go as eyes look on,
and though a hope may be inside,
the time does change as seconds go away,
and then it’s three o’ one.

Something is lost as time does change,
as what was right does go away,
and things do seem to be saddened right when,
the time does change from three.


The above poem is about the time change from three o’clock to three ’o one on a digital clock.  In some sense, it is a poem about loss.  It describes the sight of something that seems perfect and watches it as it fades.  It is almost like watching a petal fall from a flower.

The form of the poem is four stanzas of four lines each.  The meter is iambic.  Each first and second line has eight syllables, each third line has ten, and each fourth line has six.  There are some effects of this.  One effect is that the third lines can give more information and the fourth lines can have more impact.  Another effect is that the third lines somewhat break the meter.  The first line has eight syllables, the second line has eight, but then the third has ten.  This breaking of the meter is in some ways symbolic of the change in time: the two zeros seemed perfect, and then the one appeared.  The poem has no rhyming to increase the focus on the poem’s idea, increase the emphasis of the meter and to reflect the somewhat down tone of the poem.

The first stanza is meant to express trepidation.  Whoever is viewing the clock knows that the change will happen, but is weary of watching it happen.  The second stanza starts with the idea that the deterioration is happening, but then mentions the perfection of the time.  The third stanza finally brings the change.  The fourth stanza focuses on the feeling this brings.