Gwen Harwood Essay

The shift between tense is contrasted by the consistency of the eight line stanza throughout whole poem.This presents that the nature of memories as consistent throughout time regardless of the separation of time.

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The violets’, ‘A Valediction’ and ‘Sharpness of Death’Gwen Harwood poetry deeply explores many aspects of the human experience.

In ‘The Violets’ her poetry explores the passage of time.

The inevitability of the approach of death in the poem is seen through the figurative language and simile of sunset images ‘the melting west stripped like ice-cream’ symbolic of the inevitable approach.

The connecting image of the violets are used throughout the poem ‘frail melancholy flowers’, ‘spring violets’ and ‘gathered flowers’ these images act as a metaphor representative of the stages of life.

That the passing of time is inevitable and brings about loss and change.

This poem explores the nature of memories and the role they play in finding solace for this loss.Similar to ‘The Violets’, ‘A Valediction’ explores the search for a means to find comfort and solace.Rather than memories, Gwen Harwood uses poetry itself to provide solace from the loss of loved ones.‘The Violets’ explores the nature of memories and the role that they play in comforting one who has experienced loss of change.The image of the violet acts as a catalyst in which she revokes the memories of childhood and her parents love.The contrast is represented by the direct quoting of Lou Salome and St. Lour Salome represents the image of physical love ‘weather I kissed Nietzsche on the Monte Sacro I find I do not now remember’. Theresea who died young and faithful and demonstrated immense dedication and love for God.Harwood by the use of rhetorical question ‘dear ladies shall we meet halfway between sanctity and liberation?Reference to the physical book ‘The Oxford Donne’ offers a tangible image associated with comfort as well as turning to the book throughout life to find comfort ‘ached with aches from adolescence’ and ‘leaps from underlining into my flesh’.This is suggestive of the role that poetry can play in one’s life, giving comfort and deepening understanding of life.’ reflecting the complexity of the concept of passing time, the early years of life, the innocence of childhood and ignorance is seen in the monosyllabic suggesting the impermanent nature of life ‘the thing I could not grasp or name’.Thus exploring the inevitability of passing time and inevitability of death.


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