Interpretations of Texts Can Shift and Change with Time and Place

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The uniqueness of Hardwood’s poetry stems from its ability to invoke different interpretations when confronted with different time and place. In particular, the poems “The Glass Jar” and “Father and Child” are immersed with a range of allusive symbolic, literary, poetic devices which positions readers to question the underlying concerns of the poem in a dynamic manner. Ultimately, critical interpretation of the mentioned poem is refined and shaped by the context and values that embodies the time and place of the responder.

Both The Glass Jar and Father and Child examine the transitions of life and loss of innocence through the depiction of a child’s journey. In The Glass Jar, Harwood begins with a narration of a child who attempts to “soak a glass jar in the reeling sun”. The childish nature of the first stanza creates a light-hearted and evocative atmosphere that familiarises the responders to their own childhood. The notion of innocence is establish on multiple levels. The integration of biblical connotations such as “disciples” has been used to foreground a religious reading. The “light” and “sun” can be perceived as a godly entity in which the child so faithfully trusts “to bless” and to “exorcize”. As the narration progresses, the child is seen to be suffering nightmares of “pincer and claws” and “vampire fang”. These satanic imageries allow Harwood to further develop the religious context of the poem. The child wakes and “recalled his jar of light” but his “hope fell headlong from its eagle height” when he noticed the light was no longer there. Harwood has used the anticlimax as a vehicle to position the responder to question fundamentals and reliability of faith itself and challenge the responders’ preconceived values of religion.

As in Father and Child, Harwood explores the transitions of life in a cruel and provocative way. In order to defy her father’s perception of an “angel-mild”, the child decides to go out and shoot a barn owl. Contrary...
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