Textual Integrity of Gwen Harwood

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Poets through the ages have been esteemed as possessing the ability to perceive the ordinary in extraordinary and innovative ways. Poetry captures the essences of human emotion and experience and imbues them with further significance by the literary techniques that typify poetry as the language of art. In her poetry, Gwen Harwood explores many thematic concerns that resonate with her readers regardless of their contexts. The universality of concepts such as memory, inspiration, childhood education and the cyclical, yet final nature of death are transformed by Harwood’s poetry to create fresh perceptions of the continuity of experience and provide permanence to these transient elements of humanity through language. The poetic techniques employed by Harwood effectively communicate distinctive aspects of her themes while allowing them to remain universal. Harwood captures ubiquitous tensions through her use of contrasting imagery and makes them familiar with vivid detail and a dramatic use of dialogue. It is Harwood’s unique ability to combine the philosophical and the emotive which allows for the continuity of her poetry. In “Triste, Triste”, Harwood explores the tensions between the creative spirit and the limitations of the earthly. The concept of the artists’ imagination as a separate entity, able to transcend the physical is a rather Romantic one. However Harwood does not limit the idea to only artists or poets in particular; she extends the creative drive to mean individual, spiritual passion. This allows the poem to appeal to a wider audience, as the reader is enticed with the idea of possessing a passionate self. The ‘space between love and sleep” is an intangible time between two definite states of universal human experience. The phrase incites the reader to reflect on such moments in their own life, and to consider “space” with renewed significance. The

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