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Gwen Harwood's poems "The Glass Jar" exhibits the life-changing events, as does the first half of Father and Son, "Barn Owl", while the second half of the duo, "Nightfall".

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Introduction

This Changing-Self Anthology should ideally contain in it a balance of the two forms of changing self. That is, the transformation brought about by significant dramatic events that change an individual's perspective and attitude towards life, and also the more gradual change that comes with a passage of time. Gwen Harwood's poems "The Glass Jar" exhibits the life-changing events, as does the first half of Father and Son, "Barn Owl", while the second half of the duo, "Nightfall", shows the process of transformation through maturation, as does "Sky High" by Hannah Roberts. These self-changes are shown through a variety of poetic devices. In "The Glass Jar" we are witness to a little boy's dramatic conclusion that his faith will not always be reciprocated with loyalty. Putting his faith first in a "monstrance" of light, and then in his own mother, the boy finds himself betrayed by both, and has to come to terms with the implications of this realisation. ...read more.

Middle

The scarf represents his innocence and his childhood, and at the end of the poem is "crumpled", discarded. The boy has had to leave behind the purity and innocence of childhood and undergo the painful beginning of maturity, as shown in his nightmares that progress from meaningless monsters to devilish skeletons dancing a "malignant ballet" as orchestrated by his father. The morning comes again, however, and we are shown the inevitability of this self-change, and how life continues, with the 'resurrected sun' that mocks the child, winking at him from the jar. In "Father and Child", the two poems show us two types of self-change. The first, shown in "Barn Owl", is similar to the change shown in the aforementioned poem - a life-changing experience. The second, however, "Nightfall", in conglomeration with the first, shows how self-change can also result from the gradual passage of time. In Barn Owl, the young "horney fiend" sees her father as an "old No-Sayer", and he views her as "a child obedient, angel-mild". ...read more.

Conclusion

Forty years later, there has been a role reversal - where her father was once a strong, powerful figure in her life, age has now reduced him to a "stick-thin comforter". This oxymoron shows how her father has aged, with this image furthered by sentences such as "Your passionate face is grown to ancient innocence.". Now she looks after him, holding his hand and leading him, blind, on a walk, where she points out to him simplicities that he would have pointed out to her when she was an infant. Her understanding of death has also matured, as she sees her father's death as inevitable, positive and timely completion, shown in the lines "Old King, your marvelous journey's done.". This upcoming death differs greatly from the gruesome death of the owl - rather, it is a more glorified, calm and controlled death that Harwood alludes to, consistent with the tone of the poem, which differs greatly from the jerky, unbalanced and dramatic tone of the first poem. This shows how both, especially Harwood, have matured over time, both physically and mentally. ...read more.

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