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The major subject matter of the poem is an event in the life of a mother.Whilst taking her children to the park, she encounters an ex-lover and they discuss how their lives have progressed.
The poem I will be analysing today is In the Park written by Gwen Harwood. She was born in Taringa, Queensland and was brought up in Brisbane.
Harwood’s poetry always focuses on motherhood and the stifled role of women, particularly those of young mothers.
The conversation is short and they discuss her children, however, it is a superficial conversation and Harwood suggests that the man spends his time thanking God that he did not end up with the woman and her children and, as he departs, she states to no one in particular that her children ‘have eaten [her] alive’.
The meaning of this statement is that the choices the woman has made for her life have all revolved around her children.
As the man departs, she returns to her imprisonment of a life with the children.
Harwood illustrates that the fact that the mother no longer lives the same life she used to have.Harwood’s controlling idea of the negative aspects of family and motherhood challenge traditional values and she positions the reader to accept these by privileging the mother’s regret.At the end of the poem, the woman’s statement that her children have eaten her alive, suggests that she sees her children as parasites to be loathed rather than cherished.By the time she had worked her way through the tome, she’d found a new religion and the primal significance of the German’s philosophy upon her poetry should be considered the way poets look to the Bible or ancient Eastern religious texts.Along with the metaphysics of philosophy, Harwood’s poetry is also suffused with references to music, life down under away from the focus of England and America and nostalgia for his rural upbringing as a child.Her final statement shows that the things she stated to her ex-lover, such as: ‘It’s so nice to hear their chatter, watch them grow and thrive,’ are falsehoods that she has rehearsed to convince herself and others that her life is not miserable.However, it is the final line which shows the reader that her life as a mother is monotonous and torturous.A classically trained musician, Harwood was taught music, play the organ at the All Saints Church of England in Brisbane, wrote opera libretto and even spent a brief period as a novice in a convent.Even just the most cursory scanning of Harwood’s poetry collections quickly indicate which of the many German philosophers had the most influence upon her.That major philosophical work by Wittgenstein is routinely regarded as one of the most impenetrable works of philosophy in existence.One does not merely “leaf” through that work and spot a soul mate unless one is truly gifted with mastery of the written word as well as more philosophical matters.