Gwen Harwood Essay

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The shift between tense is contrasted by the consistency of the eight line stanza throughout whole poem.

This presents that the nature of memories as consistent throughout time regardless of the separation 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.

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?Similar to ‘The Violets’, ‘A Valediction’ explores the search for a means to find comfort and solace.Rather than memories, Gwen Harwood uses poetry itself to provide solace from the loss of loved ones.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.Harwood in ‘A Valediction’ examines how physical and spiritual loves are important aspects of life.The two have contrasting features yet complement each other.The rhetorical question; then if I need a lullaby, Good Doctor Donne will you attend?’ associates poetry with a comforting image of a lullaby.This demonstrates the dependence one places on finding solace from once the circumstance of the memory is gone.The nature of the memory is explored and reflected through the enjambment ‘years cannot move, nor deaths disorientating scale distort those lamp lit presence’ the pace is increased as the emotion of the writer accentuates.


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