Gwen Harwood Essay

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Opportunities for an individual to develop understanding of themselves stem from the experiences attained on their journey through life. The elements which contribute to life are explored throughout Gwen Harwood’s poems, At Mornington and Mother Who Gave Me Life, where the recollection of various events are presented as influences on the individual’s perception of the continuity of life. Both poems examine the connections between people and death in relation to personal connections with the persona’s father or mother. By encompassing aspects of human nature and life’s journey, Harwood addresses memories and relationships which contribute to one’s awareness of life. Memories and meandering thoughts, related to personal experiences, are explored throughout At Mornington where the persona shifts between the past and present and dreams and reality. This is similar to Father and Child where Barn Owl is set in past test and Nightfall is set in the present, symbolic of appreciation and understanding of the complexities of life which the child learns. At Mornington opens with an evocation of an event from the persona’s childhood which establishes the temporary and ever changing nature of human life. Reflected through the shifts between past and present tense, the persona is attempting to use past experiences in order to appreciate the present and accept the future. The poem provides a reflective and personal point of view accompanied by the recurring motif of water which symbolises the persona’s transition from childhood to the acceptance of the inevitability of death. In the third stanza, the persona refers to a more recent past where she had seen pumpkins growing on a trellis in her friend’s garden. The action of the pumpkins is described as “a parable of myself” which allows the persona to reflect on the meaning and quality of her own life and existence. The metaphor between the pumpkin vine and the persona suggests that like the pumpkin, human...
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