Review for In The Park by Gwen Harwood
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Gwen Harwood's poem "In The Park" offers readers a poignant and introspective glimpse into the life of a mother grappling with the challenges and sacrifices of motherhood. Through vivid imagery and evocative language, Harwood invites readers to contemplate the complexities of love, loss, and the passage of time.

The poem opens with a stark depiction of the mother sitting alone in the park, her clothes "out of date," surrounded by her children who "whine and bicker" and "tug her skirt." This imagery sets the tone for the rest of the poem, conveying a sense of isolation and weariness in the face of the demands of motherhood.

As the mother reflects on her past, Harwood skillfully captures her inner turmoil and longing for a life that could have been. The passing of someone she once loved serves as a poignant reminder of missed opportunities and the fleeting nature of time. The mother's attempt to "feign indifference" to this encounter underscores her desire to maintain a facade of composure, despite the pain and regret she feels.

Through the mother's interaction with the passerby, Harwood explores themes of regret and resignation, as well as the fleeting nature of human connection. The small balloon that rises from the man's head symbolizes the fleeting moments of joy and hope that can be easily punctured by the harsh realities of life. The juxtaposition of the mother's inner turmoil with the passerby's casual demeanor highlights the stark contrast between her internal struggles and the outside world's indifference.

As the poem progresses, Harwood delves deeper into the mother's inner thoughts and emotions, revealing her sense of resignation and defeat in the face of overwhelming responsibilities. The mother's bittersweet acknowledgment of the sweetness of her children's chatter is tempered by her realization that they have "eaten me alive," metaphorically consuming her identity and aspirations.

In conclusion, "In The Park" by Gwen Harwood is a powerful and evocative exploration of motherhood, regret, and the passage of time. Through vivid imagery and poignant language, Harwood invites readers to empathize with the mother's inner struggles and reflect on the complexities of love and sacrifice. This timeless poem resonates with readers of all ages, offering a poignant reminder of the enduring challenges and rewards of parenthood.

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