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At Mornington

- Nature is presented as a cleansing process, a way to find truth and wisdom

- Repetition of waves and water is very important, symbolizing time and the flow of memories. They
link past and present. Waves are always continuous and coming in life. Waves, tides, floods, water.
- Comfortable with the approaching of death.
- Information from another, they told me that when I was taken, passive voice
- Breaking from constraint of father and almost drowns
- rolled, in the first and last stanza: I was caught by a wave and rolled
and rolled in one grinding race.
- Passive voice, loss of control, vulnerable. However in contrast the second use of rolled is more
excepted she has come to terms with life and the inevitable- age death
- First young and innocent
- Second age and knowledge
- Pumpkin symbolizes fecundity, fertility/growth, maturity
- Two images of the pumpkin. One is hollowed (mocking?). the other is more real and humble.
Perhaps a celebration to be part of life.
- I would walk on water, invincible, sums up this sense of being indestructible- contrasts to the
poem as she has excepted death by the end
- innocence and experience
- the next wave, the next wave, repetition, overwhelming. Like the flood of memories and the
experiences of life.
- Flood, memories, fleeting
- beauty-autumn, metaphor- reminder of death
- Fine pumpkin grown on a trellis, almost defying nature as the child did
- Hollowed pumpkin- death. The child looks at death. A child mocking it, not understanding it
- connection, ripeness is plainly all from father and child part two
- Enjambment creates conversation/plausibility, childhood-graveyard-dream
- The water of life time
- She thinks of death no more because she has come to realise that she is not inevitable and death
will come regardless of her thoughts or worries. Knowledge and experience. Death is just another
wave to balance out
- Significance of past memories. She has captivated a pivotal moment in her life
- Child believes that it can defy nature by walking on water. Determination.
- Can certainly be read through religion
- Both personal interpretation, romantic and societies interpretation, modern
- Encapsulates the human experience, pain, dreams, desire etc.
At Mornington- Water is the unifying motif. Through nature the persona can be granted
spiritual significance. Approaching not only death but also the day of judgement. In one
sense the poem is about the hope of being saved, not to enter hell. God, her saviour.
At Mornington - would focus on how the persona shifts between the past and the
present and dreams and reality throughout the poem in order to come to fully appreciate
the present and comes to terms with her future and the inevitability of death

At Mornington
This poem was inspired by a visit to a very dear friend, Thomas Riddell. The poet went to
his garden first, then to the Mornington Cemetary where his parents are buried.

The poem begins with the childhood memory in which the poet recalls her first visit to
the sea as a child. Believing she could walk on water, she jumped in and had to be
rescued by her father. After saving her he was half comforting, half angry.
Just as she thought she could defy gravity and walk on water, so the pumpkins in her
friends garden in airy defiance of nature symbolised for her the way in which she has
been nourished by the fruits of the Earth and is moving through life to the fastness of
light and the ultimate death.

She is reminded of death as two friends of middle age. She and Thomas Riddell, stand
by his parents grave among avenues of the dead. She is aware that these have come
to that time of life when their bones begin to age and form their body into the final
shape it will assume in death just as the drying face of land rose out of earths seamless

The poet recalls the peace and serenity she enjoyed with her long-time friend in a dream
set in the Brisbane Botanical Gardens where they share a pitcher of cool, refreshing
water. So their visit to the cemetery, the security she experienced in her fathers arms
(when confronted for the first time by a Halloween pumpkin) and the serenity shared in
the Botanic Gardens all these will comfort and shield her at the time of her death,
when she is seized at last and borne away on the face of the waters forever.

Father And Child
- The owl is a symbol of wisdom, an omen of death and a symbol of the feminine
- Nature acts as a reminder of our mortality, frailty and limitations
- The purpose of the inertextuality in this poem: the integration of quotes and ideas from King Lear is
to give it a modernist aspect and establish the depth of emotion between father and child.
- The wounded barn owl confirms Harwoods ability to paint grotesque pictures in words
Father and Child A feminist reading would foreground the patriarchal symbolism
through references to Old King; the death of the owl and its links to the feminine and
the defeminisation of the daughter, who, like Lears daughters, has attempted to rob her
father. The reversal of their positions. The lack of a mother figure.
Father And Child The child assuming the role of God, master of life and death. Allusion
to the old testament of Samson robbed of power/by sleep. The word wept has strong
connotations. Continuing biblical symbolism in the early sun and times long promised
land. The child can even be compared to the prodigal, who after abandoning his father
returns for comfort.

Father and Child

The tone, or voice of Nightfall is not dissimilar to that of its companion poem Barn Owl.
Both are, first person narratives but here we sense that one, much closer to the poet
herself perhaps. The diction of this poem is even loftier and more formal than that of the
previous poem. The subject matter is weighty; the impending death of a parent, and the
diction is correspondingly serious. The sustained allusion to King Lear is an effective one.
The notion of the aged father being an old king is a persuasive one that lends him
considerable dignity, a sense of decayed greatness and faltering authority.

The extended metaphor of life as a journey is the predominant image in this poem.
Images of Genesis, of the father as God, are called up. Another consistent image is that
of the father as an old king, Since this is a poem about loss, grief and sadness, tears are
also important.

The poem has a nature, conversational feel, due to its given structure.

Nightfall is a poem about maturity, while Barn Owl is a poem about immaturity. In Barn
Owl we witness a young child coming to knowledge in a terrible way through death,
while in Nightfall we see a middle age person come to the knowledge in a natural way,
through thinking of the death of her father. All death is change, and both poems
examine the changing states of an individual at important times in her life.

Title: The Violets
Subject Matter: The subject is a past childhood memory linked to a present adult
reflection through the motif of a violet. The poem is set in Harwoods
childhood home, and as a result it is most likely predominantly
Analysis: Key Quotes Techniques and Impact on
Frail melancholy flowers
among/Ashes and loam.
Transience of childhood,
innocence and life. Ash as a
symbol of death and fragility, loam
as a juxtaposing symbol of life and
Ambiguous light. Ambiguous
sky/towards nightfall waking
Transience, movement between
adulthood (present) and childhood
(past). Epistrophe to highlight this.
Enjambment of stanza to show the
movement between the two.
Wheres morning gone? Rhetorical question, direct speech,
questioning the passage of time.
the thing I could not grasp or
Monosyllabic to show the
simplicity of childhood and thus
ignorance, also the inpermeability
of life.
Years cannot move/nor
deaths disorientating
scale/distort those lamplit
The powers of memory in
salvation from the transience are
our memories all that truly matter?
Use of light as a motif for growth
and enlightenment.
philosophy, moral,
premise, motif,
argument or
insightWhat does
Harwood teach us?
Existential questioning of life, childhood and memory. It shows the
passage from innocence to enlightenment through the sensory imagery
of the violets and the motif of light to show enlightenment and growth
of the persona. The importance of memories is highlighted in the
poem due to their retained power of rejuvenation and reflection.
Qualities / Textual
Integrity of
aspect/s leave a
lasting impression
on the
responder?What is
the most notable
aspect of this
poem?How is this
poem reflective of
Harwoods poetry
in general?
The poem uses frequent enjambment in order to continue the train-of-
thought style of the piece, which waxes lyrical in a slow pace,
showing the growth and movement of the personas journey through
the indentation. This enjambment also allows Harwoods existential
questioning to work as the whole piece flows without interruption,
allowing the reader to follow this and thus transfer the philosophical
questioning to their own lives. Fleeting moments of rhyme interrupt
this in order to jolt the reader from one state to another,
intentionally grating in contrast to the smoothness of the rest of the
piece.A key feature of Harwoods poetry is her focus on the
philosophical and rejuvenating powers of nature in a Romantic style.
As a post-modern author, this makes her work unique and adds to its
textual integrity.
have others said
about this poem:
style and content?
The enemy is, of course, time, Violets link past and present
(Hoddinott, 1991)

This Summary Sheet for At Mornington by Gwen Harwood provides a base for your own
Title: At Mornington
This piece is a philosophical and academic reflection on the nature of
being, life and death.
Analysis: Key Quotes Techniques and Impact on Reader
Rolled/like a doll among rattling
Loss of power, overcome by the
superiority of nature. Onomatopoeia
creates auditory imagery synecdoche
of the sea.
As a child I could walk on
water-/ the next wave, the next
Superhuman capabilities of
innocence, biblical allusion.
Repetition highlight the naivety of
belief, aposiopesis to show the
interrupted and ultimately futile
nature of this enterprise.
On what flood are they
borne/these memories of early
childhood/iridescent, fugitive
Continues motif of water,
juxtaposition of splendour and
hidden, secretive nature of memories.
With their cadence of
trees/marble and granite
parting/the quick of autumn
The break in the natural world by
something unnatural is shown as bad
through the link to death. Life and
death as one long continuum
(cadence). The grasses refers to the
time in life which the persona is
experiencing, where she can see what
has been and what is yet to come and
reflect upon the two.
in airy defiance of nature/a
parable of myself
Refers to opening in which she
though she could cheat nature.
And stayed for a whole
day/talking, and drinking the
The indentation refers to the fact that
this is a dream and thus not
necessarily part of real life, yet the
replenishing power of water (a
metaphor for the memories of
childhood?) remains.
we have one day, only one/but
more than enough to refresh us
Inclusive pronouns indicates a strong
bond and the repetition of one
highlights the importance of this to
the persona. The transience of time is
shown through the only.
the peace of this day will
shine/like light on the face of the
waters/that bear me away for
The future tense shows the cleansing
nature of death, in that it returns one
to a state of innocence (see: Father
and Child). The Romantic power of
water is not diminished even here as
it is linked to such a return. The
acceptance of death is show through
the tense shift from past to future to
present through the piece and in this
final stanza.
moral, premise,
argument or
What does
Harwood teach
The role of middle age as a place for reflection and contemplation of both
the childhood that was and the death that is to come. The transience of life
(as with the pitcher of water) and the importance of embracing nature
(fine pumpkins growing on a trellis) in order to accept the waters that
bear me away for ever.
Qualities /
Integrity of
What aspect/s
leave a lasting
impression on
the responder?
What is the
most notable
aspect of this
How is this
poem reflective
of Harwoods
poetry in
There is no rhyme scheme in this piece, which shows the train-of-thought
nature of the piece as a reflective journey for the persona. The use of an
indented dream passage keeps the reader aware of the constructed nature of
the piece and the fallibility of the persona, which is distinctly postmodern,
despite the Romantic tone which pervades this, as all Harwoods writing.
The motif of the water is indicative of this, as well as the symbol of the
pumpkins as rejuvenated
What have
others said
about this
poem: style
and content?

Her poetry repeatedly asserts the value of friendship and durable human
relationships as defences against the destructive nature of time
(Huddinott and Kratzmann, 2003)