Analyse the ways Gwen Harwood has prompted you to understand and respond to great and provocative ideas in her poetry. Make detailed reference to 3 poems.
Gwen Harwood’s body of work skilfully portrays provocative ideas which stimulate understanding and engage with readers. Harwood’s poems ‘The Violets’, ‘Sharpness of Death’ and ‘Father and Child’ are key ideas which are representative of the transition from innocence to experience, the transience of time and the inevitability of death. Due to the universality of these ideas, they are engaging and they resonate with contemporary audiences. Thus, these poems have prompted me to gain an understanding of the concerns explored throughout all of Harwood’s poetry. Harwood’s ‘The Violets’ evokes a strong response in the reader of the persona’s transition from innocence to experience and the transience of time through her use of natural imagery. References to light and dark throughout the poem mirror the persona’s transition from childhood to adulthood, evident in the repetition in “Ambiguous light. Ambiguous sky”. This marks the shift from day to night, but also foreshadows the persona’s progression into adult maturity and acceptance that time is transient. Allison Hoddinott’s idea that time is the persona’s “enemy” enhances my understanding that the persona has had an ongoing conflict with the transience of time. Hoddinott’s idea is displayed through the metaphor, “stolen from me those hours of unreturning light”. The melancholy tone of the passing of time depicts the child as having a sense of ownership of time which has been irrevocably lost, highlighting that time is something which cannot be regained. Therefore, Harwood uses natural imagery in ‘The Violets’ to express an acceptance of the transience of time, and hence the persona shifts from the innocence of childhood to the maturity of adulthood. Harwood’s use of personification and tone in ‘Sharpness of Death’ persuades readers to identify with the reality...
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