The notion that ordinary, everyday experiences encompass universal emotions of both sadness and delight is central to Gwen Harwood’s anthology of Selected Poems. This Australian poet often uses her personal journey towards self-knowledge and experience of growing up to comment on universal aspects of raw, uncensored life experiences. She aims to convey the idea that motherhood is a difficult experience for many women who resent the way they are forced to abandon their individuality and careers. Harwood also illustrates the sadness in the loss of innocence and regrets in childhood. However, she also reminds the audience of the importance of celebrating the richness and vitality of human life such as the importance and power of women and parenthood. Ultimately the collection also suggests that aspects of both sadness and delight are evident in every human experience.
Harwood’s works challenge the patriarchal, societal view of motherhood as a role of delight, joy and fulfillment, revealing the hollow façade of meaningless that often comes with domestic suburban roles. She explores the role of women in her contemporary Australian society, criticising and challenging the expectations that women must be restricted to the domestic sphere in this patriarchal society. Harwood’s graphic description and evocative imagery conveys the hopelessness of many women. Home of Mercy explores how females are dehumanized as the pregnant, unmarried girls have ‘sinned’ in the eyes of society and