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In Gwen Harwood's poetry, the changes in an individual's perspective and attitudes towards situations, surroundings and, therefore transformations in themselves, are brought on by external influences

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Introduction

The Glass Jar Gwen Harwood Gwen Harwood was born in 1920 in Brisbane, Queensland. Her family was affectionate and loving and as a child she was immersed in music, philosophy, religion and language. She was raised in a family of strong women, her grandmother lived until she was 80, and her mother was a feminist who was into community issues. It was Gwen's grandmother that introduced her to poetry. Her father played the piano and violin. Both Gwen and her brother were given piano lessons. She then became a music teacher, organist at the All Saints Church of England in Brisbane and a member of the Handel society. Then she became actively involved in religion, as she had always had a fondness for the Old Testament. She began writing poetry in 1950 and in this time, Australia was predominantly white and middle class. Men were still dominant, and only very few women entered the work force. Gwen was of upper middle class, and many of her poems are based on her Christian beliefs and society's beliefs. However, Gwen did not adhere to strict social rules, instead challenging the beliefs towards motherhood and many other issues of the time. ...read more.

Middle

Their hopes, dreams, beliefs, founded on their naive perspective of life, and the way the young restyle themselves consciously or subconsciously as they make new discoveries are all explored. In the poem The Glass Jar we witness the heart-wrenching episode in a little boy's life, where he is made to discover a distressing reality. Putting his faith first in a monstrance and then in his own mother, he finds himself being betrayed by both. With the many allusions to nature (for example the personification of the sun and references to animals and woods and so on) Gwen Harwood constructs a dynamic backdrop which allow the responder to dwell on the subtle shifts in the child's personality. The setting is the terrain of nightmares and dreams, where conscious will is suppressed and the reigns are handed to the subconscious mind. By making subtle changes in the ways dreams are portrayed, she shows us that the boy has been changed by his experiences. Before "the betrayals" the dreams are quite indefinite, relying on incomplete images of pincers, claws and fangs to represent the horror. The lines, "His sidelong violence summoned/ fiends whose mosaic vision saw/ his heart entire" are literal indications of his incapability to comprehend what is happening to him. ...read more.

Conclusion

The pace of the poem changes as two or more verses dwell on the horrible death: bundle of stuff that dropped, and dribbled through loose straw tangling in bowels, and hopped blindly closer. I saw those eyes that did not see mirror my cruelty Her father comes to her side and makes her carry the responsibility she had assumed to the end by asking her to kill the animal. In contrast to innocence of the young, Gwen Harwood also attempts to understand death and how it changes the personality of the people experiencing its influence. In the second part of Father and Child we see a middle aged woman, a completely different person from "the child once quick to mischief," attempting to cope with her father's imminent death. Set appropriately in the twilight of the day we are taken through the feelings of the women who is narrating the story herself. In stark contrast to the narrative of Barn Owl, the language of reflection and memories constructs Nightfall: Who could be what you were? Link your dry hand in mine, my stick-thin comforter. Far distant suburbs shine with great simplicities. Birds crowd in flowering trees, At a much slower, more controlled pace we toy with the many faces of death, trying to penetrate its mysteries. ...read more.

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