gwen harwood

Topics: Poetry, Childhood, The Reader Pages: 4 (1291 words) Published: October 19, 2013

2010 HSC Sample Response

“Harwood’s poetry continues to engage reader’s through its poetic treatment of loss and consolation.” Does this statement resonate with your own interpretation? Refer to at least TWO poems.

Gwen Harwood’s poetry is steeped in Romantic traditions and is underpinned by humanist concerns. My personal interpretation is that Harwood’s poetry engages readers through its poetic treatment of loss and consolation as well as its exploration of universal themes about human existence and the processes of life. Harwood’s poetry validates the consoling influence of childhood experiences upon adult development evident in ‘At Mornington’ which explores one sense of loss and consolidation experienced in the cycle of life from birth to death. Harwood explores one transitory nature of life in her lyrical poem ‘The Violets’, revealing the way in which memory can illustrate past experiences that will resonate in the present offering consolation. Furthermore Harwood’s poetry is characterised by an over-arching existential quest for meaning and consolation as experienced through her exploration of love in ‘A Valediction.’ Whilst the notion that Harwood’s poetry engages readers through its poetic treatment of loss and consolation resonates with my own interpretation of her poems, readers are also engaged through Harwood’s exploration of universal truisms.

A contemplation of human existence and one way in which one cycle of life is characterised by loss and consolation as a pervading theme throughout Harwood’s poetry. In ‘At Mornington’ past, present and future experiences are united through the poems fragmented structure and poetic treatment experiences of loss of naivety and consolation in order to encapsulate the cycle of life characteristic of one human experience. Furthermore, Harwood uses biblical allusions “secure in my father’s arms” to convey the universality of human existence, engaging the reader. The poem begins in the persona’s past with...
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