Gwen Harwood

“Without a comprehensive understanding of Harwood and her concerns, her poetry cannot be effectively appreciated”
The appreciation of Gwen Harwood’s various poetry can be effective with or without knowledge and a comprehensive understanding of her concerns. Regardless of whether we know about the poet an effective appreciation, when reading the poem, can easily be made. In the Harwood poems “A Valediction” and “The Violets” it is evident that a personal interpretation can be made regardless of how much you may know about Harwood. Although the way Harwood may have hoped her poetry was to be understood may not be achieved as successfully.
In the poem “The Violets” Harwood explores the themes of dissatisfaction, with her adult life, the pace of time and the frailty of memories. The poem opens on a “dusk” day with a melancholy tone. We learn of Hardwoods dissatisfaction of adult life as she “picks frail melancholy flowers/ among ashes and loam”. This is the first we hear of hardwoods childhood memories as they’re metaphorically represented as the flowers. The simile “the melting west / is striped like ice cream” also allows the audience to see the two perspectives of the scene and creates an image of the scene in our minds, therefore allowing us to appreciate her frame of mind without previous knowledge of her concerns.
An indentation of the left margin continues throughout the poem from stanza two till stanza 5 and briefly in stanza six the indentation returns. The indent represents the flashback to the personas memories as we learn of her confusion yet comfort when she acknowledges her loss of day. The rhetorical question, “where has morning gone?” allows the audience to comprehend with the young girls state of mind, so we can fully appreciate the memory.
Throughout the poem, “the violets”, we are constantly reminded of how quickly time may pass and overall develop an understanding of how we feel the persona is reacting to this realization of her maturity. We...