Gwen Harwood - Power of Memory. Essay

1110 WordsOct 22, 20105 Pages
Memory is used as a powerful conduit into the past; childhood experiences held in the subconscious illuminate an adult’s perception. Harwood uses tense shifts throughout her poetry to emphasise and indicate the interweaving and connection the past and the present hold. By allowing this examination of the childhood memories, Harwood identifies that their significance is that of an everlasting memory that will dominate over time’s continuity and the inevitability of death. Three poems written by Harwood that emphasise the idea of memory’s importance and its ability to alter and determine perceptions are ‘Father and Child’, ‘The Violets’ and ‘At Mornington’. Each of these poems reminisces on pivotal experiences that modify one’s assessment…show more content…
Harwood uses “Daybreak:” as the opening into the poem, representing a new beginning, a new experience, which foreshadows the events to come. Negative descriptions such as, “horny fiend” are used by Harwood when the persona is describing herself taking her father’s gun at dawn, which is juxtaposed by the idea of the father at rest dreaming of an “obedient, angel-mind” child. Throughout ‘At Mornington’, Harwood uses descriptions, “night fell”, and similes, “the piece of this day will shine like light” when referring to the power of memory. During ‘The Violets’, Harwood uses imagery such as “ambiguous light” and metaphors such as “unreturning light” and “blurring darkness” to portray time’s ability to pass, and the way that you cannot regain time that is lost. During ‘The Violets’, Harwood also uses the metaphor of the “melting west” to represent a closing day, capturing the vivid colours of the natural phenomenon through the use of evocative imagery. Indeed, the second poem of the diptych of ‘Father and Child’ is ‘Nightfall’. These references to darkness, light and the closing of days can all be seen as symbolic of life, death and the transience of time, as when one day ends and night falls, the transience of that moment will be held in one’s memory regardless of the moment never being able to be relived. Harwood emphasises the inevitability of time’s continuity, “the think I could not grasp or name”, through
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