In the first two stanzas of “In Mrs Tilscher’s Class,” the speaker uses end-stop often—but without any obvious pattern. For instance, the first two lines of the poem are enjambed. But then the speaker switches things up and starts using end-stop regularly: in lines 3-8 ("while Mrs Tilscher ... a running child"), every line except one is end-stopped.
The second stanza uses end-stop even more often: every line except 11 ("Sugar paper. Coloured shapes. Brady and Hindley") and 13 ("Mrs Tilscher loved you. Some mornings, you found") is end-stopped. This is partially due to the poem’s reliance on parataxis: many of the poem’s sentences are short fragments; they end with the end of the line. As a result, the poem feels both deliberate and jerky. The poise and control of the adult speaker is disrupted by his or her imitation of the quick jumps in logic that children make as they play and talk.
In the poem’s final two stanzas, the speaker describes moving from childhood to adolescence: the speaker learns about sex and develops his or her own sexual desires. The poem’s use of enjambment and end-stop changes in these stanzas. Stanza 3 has only one end-stop, the final line. Becoming adolescent seems to upset the speaker in more ways than one: the poem ceases to be heavily end-stopped. It speeds up: becoming breathless and urgent as the speaker tries to negotiate the uncomfortable things he or she is learning.
Then, in the poem’s final stanza, the speaker almost exclusively uses end-stop—with just one enjambment, in line 26 ("You asked her / how you were born"). The switch between using almost all enjambments in stanza 3 and almost none in stanza 4 is surprising, even unsettling: but also reflects the speaker’s state of mind as he or she becomes an adolescent. Just as adolescents try out identities and styles, the speaker is trying—and quickly abandoning—different ways of organizing his or her poem.
Whereas the use of end-stop in the first two stanzas reflects the speaker’s childhood—the ways that children think and talk—the final two stanzas use end-stop in a different way: to reflect the instability and questioning of adolescence.