The poetry of Gwen Harwood #1

Poem: In the Park by Australian poet Gwen Harwood

            This poem relates a small incident in the life of a woman with three young children. She is sitting in the park and obviously feeling very stressed out looking after her little family. We can assume that money is not plentiful (‘Her clothes are out of date’).  A passer-by stops to talk. He is ‘someone she loved once’ but we are not certain that this is the father of the children. It could be someone who could have easily found himself in a similar situation but didn’t ‘but for the grace of God.’

            The young mother tries to put on a brave face by saying the ‘it’s so sweet to hear their chatter, watch them grow and thrive.’ But the last line totally debunks that idea: ‘To the wind she says, “They have eaten me alive.”’ All ambitions have been thwarted – dashed to nothing by the demands of her family.

            Technically, this is a sonnet with most lines written in iambic pentameter. It has a regular rhyming pattern (abba cddc efgefg).


  • Harwood, Gwen, 2001, Selected Poems. Penguin, Camberwell.

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