The persona of the poem experiences a loss of innocence with the discovery of the tragedy of death. In this part of the poem, the persona accepts the inevitability of death and therefore completes the process of maturation. Romantic references to nature connect the natural world with humanity and demonstrate that growth and the life cycle are inevitable for all forms of life. Throughout the first three stanzas of the poem, there is a tone of mischief and playfulness, however, this turns to a tone of lamentation for the remainder of the poem, conveying the power of this memory to bring the shock of the realisation and knowledge about the trauma of death.
Ironically, the child is breaking both the law of man, and, in a Biblical sense, the laws of God, referred to in the Old Testament: This causes a loss of innocence as knowledge about death is gained, a significant realisation of growing up, and therefore a significant childhood memory. Harwood turns to her Romantic ideals to soothe the gravity of knowledge acquired and understand what was learnt in the memory of killing the owl. This idea is highlighted by religious allusions.
Harwood combines a value of nature with the theme of significant relationships to exemplify their ability in easing the trials and tribulations of life. Memory and Artistic Human Expression: The juxtaposition of the spiritual and transcendent coital experience represented in this poem is connected with the resurrection of Christ.
From a religious interpretation, the audience is reminded of the power of God over the mundane existence of humans.
Harwood uses her religious values to demonstrate the timeless and universal value of divine and transcendent experiences. During the coital experience, the persona experienced a transcendent spiritual awakening, another Romantic value. However, Harwood demonstrates that relationships can provide solace after this realisation of mortality and of the transience of human life and experience.
The Romantics valued the personal experience, and the use of first person within this poem represents the idea of personal and emotional memories. The personal disposition of the poem allows the persona to emulate her spiritual connection to the divinity of nature.
The motif of light, reflected in memories, and in the present, represents the everlasting need of the human condition to return to a time of purity before death, referencing the religious belief of heaven, and providing a semblance of hope and security, facilitating the acceptance of death with the promise of an afterlife.
Harwood relates the idea that memory provides a religious education which raises emotions of hope and solace regarding the gravity of death. There is a motif of water throughout the poem, an element of nature, and of value, and therefore an indicative component of Romantic idealism.
This allusion refers to preparing one for death, by cleansing their soul. Harwood comments on the spiritual and emotional acceptance that occurs with age and an understanding of death.
Harwood comments that religious can assist with the reconciliation of death and degradation. Romanticism also held a value of the human condition. Through Romantic influence, Harwood demonstrates the mutual comfort that comes from friendship and acts as an antidote to the anxieties surrounding death. This highlights the religious notion that friendship and other relationships are strengthened by religious faith, and bring about a spiritual peace that prepares one for life after death.
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Modernist poet Gwen Harwood adheres to the literary conventions of the Romantics in her anthology of poems, employing poetical devices and form to give expression to the themes of loss and consolation as well as other timeless themes.
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In “Triste, Triste,” Harwood uses Romantic elements to highlight the inspiration and joy that can be achieved through human creativity, and since everyone deserves this kind of human expression, Harwood’s poem holds a broad appeal. Gwen Harwood’s “The Violets” is a meditation that reflects a childhood experience that was perhaps a pivotal point in the growth and psychological development of the persona.
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