Gwen Harwood - the Violets Essay

Gwen Harwood's poem, 'The Violets', is an intricate depiction of a child's ignorant innocence that blossoms into knowledgeable maturity. Though the poem is simplistic in nature, it heralds rich use of imagery which appeals to the reader's mind. The use of simple structural and literal features alludes to the wider complexities of life that helps to convey the overall sombre and nostalgic mood that Harwood has created.

For the reader to be properly immersed in 'The Violets', the use of imagery is intrinsic in Harwood's ability to communicate her vivid childhood despite the relatively simple language used. The olfactory imagery used in the last stanza where the "Faint scent of violets drifts in the air." allows the reader to experience what the poet does. The faint scent of violets symbolises the reminiscence of Harwood's innocence, a recurring motif throughout the poem; the line highlights the significance of memories in influencing the present which was conveyed in so few words. This conveys the power of Harwood's simple, yet effective style of writing which has resulted in her success.

Harwood was also able to uphold the simple integrity of "The Violets" by allowing the reader to see outside the poem with the use of allusion. This allowed her to refer to deeper concepts without having to point them out to the reader. Her inclusion of "Scarlatti's song" which mentioned an Italian composer indicated that she is highly cultured and knowledgeable. Harwood also refers to "The Ode" in that "years cannot move nor death's disorienting scale distort those lamplit presences.” This also shows that despite her now knowledgable state, she does not wish to let go of her childhood innocence; expressed in such few terms, we as the reader are shown Harwood's success in communicating her feelings.

The utilisation of structure in the poem also shows Harwood's skill in illustrating her transition from innocence to maturity. This is done by the establishment of tones that is...