Gwen Harwood

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  1. Father and Child
    Dominant Reading: Loss of innocence
    • "believed death clean/and final"
    • "this obscene/bundle of stuff"
    • Enjambment = paints imagery of bloody death, contrasting to assumption of "clean"
    • "leaned my head upon/my father's arm and wept"
    • symbolic of lessons learnt
  2. Postmodernist Reading: Loss of innocence
    • Intro biblical reference
    • "owl blind in early sun/for what i had begun"
    • Adam and Eve, robbed of innocence, eyes open to knowledge of good and evil
    • rhyming = emphasis on finality of consequence
  3. At Mornington
    Dominant Reading: Changing perspective on life and death/Growing up
    • first stanza = "believing/as a child, I could walk on water"
    • water = recurring motif = symbolic of life
    • invincibility as a child
    • last stanza = "rolled into one grinding race/of dreams, pain, memories"--> adulthood
    • imagery symbolic of powerlessness in life
    • juxtaposing child self's perspective
  4. Postmodernist Reading: Changing perspective/Growing up
    • "I could walk on water" = biblically allude to Jesus
    • = emphasise childlike faith and innocence
    • that is lost, as an adult she is thrown into life where
    • "no hand will save me" --> loss of faith
  5. At Mornington
    Dominant Reading: Memory sustains life
    • cyclical structure + shifts between past and present = movement of memory in life
    • memory of friendship = accept death's reality
    • recalls --> "there is still some water left over"
    • symbolic of continuity of friendship > death
    • "I think of death no more" - ability to accept death in present
    • merging of water and light in last stanza = "light on the face of the waters"
    • light = peace. peace found in life through memory.
  6. Dominant Reading: Striving to grow and accept death
    • imagery of pumpkin "climbing/from earth to the fastness of light"
    • symbolic of her strive to grow personally and spiritually, and consequently accept death
    • does accept death, as she "laughed at a hollow pumpkin"
    • finds comfort as she comes to accept death
  7. Mother Who Gave Me Life
    Dominant Reading: Death is inferior
    • last meeting with mother "closed/the ward door of heavey glass"
    • death creates barrier
    • however transparent image of of mother = "glass"
    • memory of her mother will always still be visible
    • death is transparent
  8. Dominant Reading: Honouring mother
    • "thirty thousand days" = alliteration emphasising greatness
    • "fabric of marvels" symbolic of mother's life
    • "folded down to a little space"tendency to view even death as a chore
    • admires mother's consistency motherly role
  9. Feminist Reading: Honours all mothers
    • "women bearing women" = ongoing cycle of female ancestry
    • stressing importance of female role, opposing traditional focus on males
    • patriarchal society seen in "my father's house"
    • nurturing role of women: "somehow, smooth to a smile so I should not see your tears"= alliteration emphasise tranquility of women
    • appreciate women more
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Gwen Harwood
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