Gwen Harwood’s “in the park”

Gwen Harwood’s “In the park” is a poem about a lonely woman sitting in a park with her children, while a man she once loved passes by. The poem is set in Petrarchan sonnet form, with the first eight lines showing us the woman’s trouble and problem. However in the last six lines we see that the woman and this man will never re ignite, the last lines offer the solution to the problem. The title in this poem is very plain and almost reflects the woman and her life.

Harwood begins the poem with an image of a poor woman with “out of date” clothes; this is a powerful impression on the reader as it immediately states that she is probably poor. The woman’s children “whine and bicker” which shows us that she may have lost interest in her children and is not giving them enough attention as they “tug her skirt”. Another child is very bored with herself that is shown through drawing “aimless patterns in the dirt”, this notion of boredom reflects directly on the life on the disheartened woman. The last line is very important, it shows us that that the woman has no self-confidence and no will to change things either. The line also shows the reader that she once had a real relationship with a man.  The enjambment over the first to second stanza creates a wonderful effect as the reader sees it as “too late” to do anything but if one was to read on they would realise the actual meaning of the sentence as “too late to feign indifference to that casual nod.

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In the second stanza, the woman’s self esteem really shows as she suggest her thoughts and self pity as she imagines a speech bubble rising from the mans head almost to say thank god I did not end up like her. The speech bubble is an important part of this poem as it suggests the woman’s imagination of what could have been. The cartoon-like bubble can be interpreted by the reader in one of two ways, either it is the woman thinking about what the man is thinking or it is the actual reader seeing that from the narrator, ...

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