Harwood's Poetry - a Valediction, Father and Child and the Violets

Topics: Poetry, Childhood, Psychoanalysis Pages: 4 (1491 words) Published: March 18, 2011
What meaning have you derived from Harwood’s poetry? Refer to 3 poems and include theoretical readings.

The very essence of postmodernism states that meaning is provisional. The meaning that Gwen Harwood imbued in her poems may not necessarily be the meaning that we as responders ‘draw out’ from the poem. Harwood’s poetry is a product of her own historical, social, cultural and personal context and any subsequent reading is done by responders with their own unique set of circumstances. These new set of circumstances will invariably be different and hence multiple readings of a text can be taken and each reader will take their own meaning from a text. What is important here is the notion of textual integrity. Whatever meaning is perceived in the text, it must be shown to be unified and consistent with the stylistic features of the text to create an integrated whole. It is this textual integrity along with the universal issues she deals such as the nature of life and existence, the irreversibility of time, the loss of innocence with ages and the inevitability of death that allows Harwood’s poetry to transcend time and provide meaning to a range of different contexts. Harwood’s A Valediction, The Violets, and Father and Child demonstrate the ability of literature to maintain textual integrity and transcend their immediate context. In my study of these poems my understanding of the texts have been influenced by a number of different readings including dominant, psychoanalytical, postmodern, and spiritual readings.

Harwood’s A Valediction raises the idea that as humans we change and develop over time and with age develop a new sense of maturity and contentment with life. In this poem Harwood moves from a literal experience and memory to pensive reflection in order to create a contrast between the younger and older persona. She begins by recounting her memories of the poet Donne whose poetry inspired and encouraged her as a child and helped her through the...
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