Poetry creatively captures human experience, emotion and nature. Gwen Harwood employs a range of literary and poetic techniques such as imagery, religious allusions and personification to demonstrate the universality of concepts such as loss, death, memory and childhood. Through this, Harwood’s poetry to creates clear and strong perceptions of the continuity of experience and provide permanence to these transient elements of humanity.
In ‘Triste, Triste’, Harwood explores the core themes of post coital sadness and the contradictory nature of the physical and spiritual realms that are created by the human body. These aspects all pertain to the human experience and growth of oneself. That is, the physicality of the skeleton, or frame, and the intellectual and creative importance of the brain as a muscle. The meaning of the word “Triste” is sad and mournful hence the repetition of this word in the title is indicative of Harwood’s reflection on the loss of inspiration. In the first stanza, a yearning and apparent need for ongoing physical passion in the continuous “space between love and sleep” presents the notion of sleep and its ironically nurturing qualities for the mind and the body despite the idleness of the body during this time of restoration. The phrase furthermore provokes the reader to reflect on such moments in their own life, and to reflect on “space” with renewed significance and how important it is for the brain and the self. Harwood describes this process as a “prison”, “eyes against shoulder keep their blood black curtains tight... body rolls back like a stone.” Parallels are drawn between the ideal that the imagination is a separate entity and the separation between the physical skull and its place for the brain to reside, the brain resembles the imagination or factory of creativity. The poem makes specific and clear biblical references to the Resurrection through imagery furthermore providing to the creative self, as it is aligned...
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