Gwen Harwood

Harwood uses the concepts of sorrow in change, struggle with pain and the sharpness of memory as a foundation on which she builds her poetry from. The changing perspectives on mortality through childhood to maturity are shown through the recollection of memory and language techniques. Certain techniques and recollection also construct the pain in which the sorrow of change brings into Harwood’s life throughout the years of her life. Biblical references and intertextuality help emphasise these concepts. With the combination of exterior references, figurative speech, and writing techniques, the sharpness of Harwood’s memory, which ease the struggle of pain and the sorrow in change within her poetry, contributes to the three elements on which she bases her poetry on. ‘At Mornington’ and ‘Father and Child Part I - Barn Owl - and Part II - Nightfall” are two poems from Harwood’s anthology.

As Harwood’s perceptions on death, as a child, are transformed, the element of the sorrow in change is clearly portrayed as she bases this idea throughout the poem “Father and Child - Barn Owl”. This poem is a recollection of a primitive moment in her life, as Harwood   as a child disobeys her father and kills an owl with her father’s gun. Through this experience, Harwood’s eyes are opened to the reality of death where she “believed death clean and final”. This quote shows the innocence Harwood had as a child, as it juxtaposes to the other side of death she witnesses as it is referred to as “this obscene/bundle of stuff”
Harwood’s sorrow in the realisation of death’s brutality is shown as she “leaned my head/upon my father’s arm and wept”.
Through the weeping of Harwood onto her father’s arm after the death of the owl, the sympathy for the owl and herself is symbolized, for when she shot the owl, she destroyed her wisdom as well. The owl in a postmodernist interpretation symbolizes the Greek goddess of Athena in Greek mythology, who is the Goddess of Wisdom. Therefore, the owl...