The Gentle Meditation, The Violets, By Gwen Harwood

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Understanding a poet’s context can greatly shape a person’s understanding of their poetry. Australian poet Gwen Harwood (1920-1995) was born into a self-sufficient family full of music, philosophy and language. Harwood can be seen to draw inspiration from her lifelong influences, primarily music and her childhood, to shape her poems. The gentle meditation, The Violets, is an exploration of the existential concerns of the poet regarding the innocence and experience of childhood. The _____ Four Impromptus conveys ideas of the power of music and the human experience. Both poems display the personal themes of music, childhood innocence, human development and romanticism, reflecting these dominant experiences in Harwood’s personal life. By…show more content…
This indicates that music is seen as being more than the physical, but rather transcending into the realm of the spiritual and as being a fundamental element of human joy. In Harwood’s own life, she found joy and fulfillment her musical endeavors. From a young age she yearned to become a famous musician. She believed that music was more than just sounds, that it had the ability to help people ‘understand unquestionable shapes of truth’. By noting the significant role that music played in Harwood’s life, the power and symbolism of music in her poetry can be better understood.

2. Childhood Innocence
Harwood explore ideas concerning childhood innocence and experience through her poems, reflecting her deep interest in philosophy and the human experience. As a young contemporary reader, Harwood’s emphasis on the importance of childhood memories is particularly resonant, evoking the audience to reflect upon their own naïve recollections. This is also supported by the critic Hoddinott who stated that within Harwood’s body of work, “dreams of childhood have a particular power…perception of the truth with fear of the unknown” is also evident in “The Violets” where the importance of memories is explored as a reflection on an individual’s growth from naivety to experience. Harwood uses the rhetoric “Where’s morning gone?” in recognition of the carelessness exhibited in childhood
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