Timeless Themes In Gwen Harwood's Mother Who Gave Me Life

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There are many central, timeless themes that are intertwined and developed through many of Gwen Harwood’s poems. One of these include the change of the human condition as humans mature, and go from the innocence of childhood, then to adolescence and afterwards to adult and to the elderly. Roles can be reversed and many attitudes can change. This is explored in Harwood’s poems “Mother Who Gave Me Life”, “Father and Child” and “At Mornington”. “Mother Who Gave Me Life” is a poem about the relationship between mothers and daughters, and the timeless role of women in society and in particular Harwood and her mother’s relationship. Harwood had a volatile relationship with her mother who died, aged 82, just prior to this poem being published. Mother Who…show more content…
This shows the intimate relationship between the mother and daughter. The phrase “guileless milk of the word” represents the intimacy of breastfeeding and passing on wisdom, two aspects of an intimate mother-daughter relationship. Through many techniques Harwood represents her intimate relationship with her mother on a much more personal level. Harwood makes me readily appreciate the relationship I have with my mother, and how lucky I am. Another theme the poem explores is the role of women in society. The repetitious links of the women with symbols of domesticity “mothers fine threadbare linen/worn still good to the last” celebrates the role of women and doesn’t condemn it, showing Harwood has a positive idea about the role of women. The term “monkey bosoms” shows the role of women began at the beginning of time. Harwood encourages me to consider the relationship I have with my mother, and stressed the important role of women in society. “Father and Child” is a two part poem about the changing attitudes towards death, that the persona experiences and the
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