Gwen Harwood Speech

“Poetry bridges the gap between the needs of the flesh and the mysteries of the human soul in its search for the whole self” (M.C. Richards)

It is with great pleasure and satisfaction that I stand before the esteemed company representatives of ‘Empak Recording Pty Ltd’ to endorse the inclusion of Gwen Harwood’s poetry on your impending CD entitled; ‘Poetry Anthologies’.

The poetry of Gwen Harwood explores the concept behind human existence, the dichotomies of life, youth and age, loss of innocence, memory, and the inevitability of death in an attempt to explain and cater for the relentless movement of time, thus investigating the social mores and values affecting the contemporary audience. The poems Father and Child (1953) and Triste, Triste (1963) enable Harwood to draw upon symbols to reconcile the paradoxical nature of our world amid a variety of literary techniques and devices including enjambment, allusions, simile, descriptive language, synecdoche, juxtaposition, repetition, imagery, and alliteration. Inspired by the philosophy of Holderlin and Wittgenstein, music, family, religion and the romanticism and modernism movements, Harwood is able to “fulfil a deep inner necessity…to realize in words the moments that gave her life its meaning.” It is Harwood’s definitive context that sanctions the sustained contemporary appreciation of her poetry from a variety of perspectives, including religious, feminist and psychoanalytic readings.

The diptych that constitutes Father and Child; Barn Owl and Nightfall is essentially concerned with the loss of innocence through experience, primarily that between the binary oppositions of life and death. Harwood juxtaposes the youthful persona’s potential for both good, “obedient, angel minded”, and evil, “horny fiend” in an attempt to foreshadow the possible carnage that is soon to occur. The theme of ‘lost innocence through the passage of time’ is similarly demonstrated in At Mornington as this poem also deals with...