The poem “Childhood” by Frances Cornford is a simple poem through the perspective of a child, and how he grows up in an instant of realisation.
The poem is short and simple and it shows exactly how a child’s mind works.
In the first four lines, the child thinking that adults “chose” to age, to have stiff backs and, their veins sticking out for the purpose of seeming grand. It’s easy to see why a child would think that, because all around the world, the old are respected. In a child’s point of view parents are the most powerful, but seeing them acting so respectful to the old creates a fear in the mind of a child. The sense of respect and fear shows when the poet uses the simile “veins like small fat snakes—,”as to a child snakes are animals that are to be feared, but are also a sign of something grand.
From lines 5 to 10 contain the reason for the speaker's sudden changed opinion about aging grown-ups. She had told us that she used to believe that the grown-ups "chose" those aging qualities until she observed her great-aunt's friend groping helplessly for her beads. The speaker realizes that it is not likely a person would choose to have such difficulty just retrieving some loose beads, so she then realizes that they probably don't choose those visible physical defects either. This observation led the speaker to change her perspective: the adults were just helpless as they acquired those old-age characteristics, and their helplessness paralleled her own, the helplessness of being young.
The aptness of the title truly shows in the last two lines, “And then I knew that she was helplessly old, / As I was helplessly young” which shows that old age is like a second childhood, and that both—children and old people face similar problems.