Gwen Harwood Poetry, 'the Violets', 'Sharpness of Death' and 'a Valediction'

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‘The violets’, ‘A Valediction’ and ‘Sharpness of Death’ Gwen Harwood poetry deeply explores many aspects of the human experience. In ‘The Violets’ her poetry explores the passage of time. That the passing of time is inevitable and brings about loss and change. This poem explores the nature of memories and the role they play in finding solace for this loss. ‘A Valediction’ explores the importance of the balance between physical and spiritual love. Harwood explores the nature of both form of love and how each is needed to develop ultimate love. Harwood suggests that poetry can offer comfort and deepen the human understanding of life and love. In ‘The Sharpness of Death’ Harwood explores the nature of love, life and death, and the relationship between each. Harwood highlights the extreme contrast in ones perception of love, life and death when influenced by either philosophy or poetry. In ‘The Violets’ Harwood explores the inevitable nature of passing time, that this passing gives rise to change and loss. The inevitability of the approach of death in the poem is seen through the figurative language and simile of sunset images ‘the melting west stripped like ice-cream’ symbolic of the inevitable approach. The connecting image of the violets are used throughout the poem ‘frail melancholy flowers’, ‘spring violets’ and ‘gathered flowers’ these images act as a metaphor representative of the stages of life. Each image is representative of high and low phases of life and ‘gathered flowers’ is suggestive of the end of life. The persona questions this passage in the direct speech and rhetorical question ‘where’s morning gone?’ reflecting the complexity of the concept of passing time, the early years of life, the innocence of childhood and ignorance is seen in the monosyllabic suggesting the impermanent nature of life ‘the thing I could not grasp or name’. Thus exploring
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