"In The Park" by Gwen Harwood

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Title:  Confronting Reality “In the Park”

Original Sonnet: Gwen Harwood – “In the Park”:

She sits in the park. Her clothes are out of date.
Two children whine and bicker, tug her skirt.
A third draws aimless patterns in the dirt
Someone she loved once passed by – too late

to feign indifference to that casual nod.
“How nice” et cetera. “Time holds great surprises.”
From his neat head unquestionably rises
a small balloon…“but for the grace of God…”

They stand a while in flickering light, rehearsing
the children’s names and birthdays. “It’s so sweet
to hear their chatter, watch them grow and thrive, ”
she says to his departing smile. Then, nursing
the youngest child, sits staring at her feet.
To the wind she says, “They have eaten me alive.”

1. Paraphrase: A woman sits in the park with her three children playing around her. She is not well dressed and feels a bit outdated. An ex-lover walking in the park stops to converse with her, being critical that her life is now burdened with children.

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The woman still feels love and affection for this man, and can read his thoughts about her disposition. They chat about the children, names and birthdays, and she pretends she is happy. When her ex-lover leaves she feels disappointment that she is not with him.  Staring at her feet, she realizes she has been put into a life with abundant responsibilities of motherhood and marriage. She can only relate her unhappiness to the wind. This way of life has drained her of freedom and a romantic happiness, which she feels she could have had with her ex-lover.

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