Suburban Sonnet by Gwen Harwood

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Poetry is an art form that has been used to express certain messages or beliefs, and can potentially change a reader’s view on a subject. Suburban Sonnet, written by Gwen Harwood has a lot of social commentary and is speaking to you about a lot of things that it feels are important. It is looking to make a lot of points about Australian society and the sacrifice of having children and of living a suburban lifestyle. Gwen Harwood’s ‘Suburban Sonnet’ is a fourteen line poem with strong values of urban Australia. The poem, Suburban Sonnet, idealizes the harsh realities of an Australian housewife, creating sympathetic tones to the readers. Gwen Harwood was born in Brisbane, Queensland in 1920. Harwood was raised in a family of strong women, her grandmother earning her own living until she was 80, and her mother was a feminist who was into community issues. Her family was self-sufficient and this can be noted in the themes of some of her poems. Gwen Harwood's poetry is written in a 1950’s context. A woman's concerns then would not have been expressed. It was a woman's responsibility and place to make a home for her husband, upkeep it and raise a family, all the while making the duty seem effortless and enjoyable. An example of this “She comforts them; and wraps it in a paper featuring: Tasty dishes from stale bread,” (stanza one, line thirteen). It is negative, bitter and melancholic. This appears to the readers that Harwood would like to creative a negative view of Australian motherhood. This discourse is evidenced at early as the first line “She practises a fugue, though it can matter to no one now if she plays well or not.” (stanza one, line one). Harwood uses symbolism techniques to create greater depth to her work which therefore questions the audience and presents a strong and moving impact on the readers. Metaphors in Suburban Sonnet are used to emphasize the stressed and chaotic life of the Australian housewife, “Zest and love drain out with soapy water,”...
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