Poetry: The Algebra of Literature

Do you want to analyse poetry or eat a tub of ice-cream?

Do you want to read about societies expectations or go to an AC DC concert?

Mate if I had a choice I would totally choose the poetry. Jokes. I suck at poetry. I suck at writing it, I suck at understanding it, and I can’t even wrap my had around how people can do it for a living. But I mean that’s just me. Whatever you’re into in your own time is your thing. I’m not judging.

However, this is my blog and for some unknown reason you have decided to read it, so you’re going to have to put up with my endless rambling about a bunch of shit I don’t understand but I hope to god makes sense.

Poetry to me is like trying to teach algebra to a two-year-old. Like what the hell is that? I don’t understand. Gwen Harwood’s poetry is hard, but it is creative and intriguing. The ideas I got from her poems is one; societies expectations for women are fucked up. People be like, “A woman needs a man in her life” or “How do you cope without a man by your side?” Like no. Women don’t need any one to make them feel good. All they need is shoes, clothes and chocolate and well maybe dirty dancing. Oh and Johnny Depp. But it is what it is.

Lastly, the idea that single mothers are going to wilt away like a dying flower. (Did you like my attempt at poetry? It was pretty neat aye? Got that simile going on). To even see these ideas in Gwen’s poetry you have to actually be able to read firstly, cause if ya can’t do that then well how you even reading this blog post? Any way, you need to be able to understand what the hell she is writing about, what form she is using, what techniques/devices are involved, the specific parts that convey that idea and yadda yadda yadda.

If you don’t know this, then well you’re so screwed. However, I shall enlighten you on the marvellous creative writing of Ms Gwen Harwood. To me she is writing about gender roles through the form of a sonnet using symbolism, imagery and irony in certain line/quotes in her poems.

BTW these poems I keep mentioning are called ‘Suburban Sonnet: Boxing Day’ and ‘In the Park’. ‘Suburban Sonnet: Boxing Day’ conveys the expectation of women (they need a man) and ‘In the Park’ portrays stereotypes of single mothers (them girls who don’t have no man).

‘Suburban Sonnet: Boxing Day’ uses the symbolisms of a “women with a broom” to define the persona (person in the poem for those readers with a lower intelligence than a ten-year-old) as a female who portrays characteristics that are expected by society. Basically she’s gotta cook, clean, have loads of babies, and must at the same time remain perfectly innocent till the end of time. Therefore the symbolism of the broom and the placement of the word woman in accordance to the symbol shows the expectations of women in society. Harwood is then able to use symbolism in her other poem ‘In the Park’ to portray the stereotypes of single mothers. It is expected of women to have a man in their life (bullshit!) however, a single mother who hasn’t got a man is then categorised into a group of women who won’t fair well with having kids without any help from a strong, hardworking man. Honestly, women are stronger than men. I mean, society says that single mothers won’t do well with kids. They won’t have enough energy, they will be drained physically, mentally and emotionally. But you know what society, us women give birth to the new generations. We are the ones who have to push out a giant baby. We are the ones who have to go through labour. So suck it. If a woman can go through pregnancy, then they can do anything. Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything but you know.  Anyhow. Gwen writes, “Her clothes are out of date”, which indicates that this SINGLE MOTHER is most likely in a poor socio-economic state which can be linked to the fact that she hasn’t got no man. Furthermore, it is seen that Harwood depicts the stereotypes of women, especially single mothers through the symbolism of the persona’s clothes.

Let’s just take a little break. Here is a picture of a cute puppy.


Imagery is a huge part of poetry. Poets use words to put an image in our heads (aliens? Telepathy? Idk) to portray and emphasise a point.

My BFF Gwen uses imagery in ‘Suburban Sonnet: Boxing Day” to portray the expectation of us females. These colours “Gold, silver, pink and blue” are used to create the image of the steps a female should go through in her life. Gold means wedding rings, so she should get married. Silver means silver wear which means to move in together or start cooking. Lastly, pink and blue illustrate the idea of children; a girl and a boy. This imagery illustrates the domestic duties of a woman and her role in society.

Now even I will admit that I want to get married, move in with my partner and have kids one day, but that shouldn’t be expected of me. I should have to conform to society’s ideas. I’m unique. Basically I’m a unicorn.

Harwood again uses imagery but she uses it in ‘In the Park’ to depict the stereotypes allocated to single mothers. Now the next line I’m going to write sounds like zombies and you’re probs going to be like WTF are you on (actually you probably already think that) or if you’re like me you’re thinking


walking dead

Continuing on, “They have eaten me alive” creates an unaesthetic image that describes the mental, emotional, and physical draining of the persona done so by the kids because she has no man there to help her. This image would not be portrayed as such if the persona had a male figure in her life to help her with the children. She would be healthy and not drained. However, by doing it in the way that she did, Gwen Harwood is able to encourage us the see the persona as somewhat unfit as a single mother.  Although if it really related to zombies I would totes be ok with depending whole heartedly on Daryl Dixon.

Irony. What is it? Like literally what does it even mean cause I have no idea. Like I’m pretty sure it contradicts things or something. Oh well I’m going to use it anyway.

Actually before I start this is the time when I ask if you actually understand what the hell I’ve been writing about or if it’s like when you ask an American if they understand the Scottish guy who is on his 15th pint and is trying to tell you about how the loch ness monster is real and that he has seen it.

This whole time I’ve been talking about the expectation of women. Especially the expectation that they need a man. The magazine titled “How to keep your husbands love” is used in the poem ‘Suburban Sonnet: Boxing Day” as an ironic statement to bring light to the idea of society’s expectations. This is ironic as she does not have a husband but was given a magazine based on how to keep their love. This is portraying that women are the ones who have to work to keep the love of a man. They are EXPECTED to work for it. Not the other way round. This is clearly showing the gender roles portrayed in Harwood’s poems. ‘In the Park’ uses an ironic setting to emphasise that a single mother would not stereotypically be in such a setting as she has no one and probably no time for love. The “flickering lights” is suggestive of a romantic space with candles set up for lovers. However, it is ironic that she is in this setting when she doesn’t have a man to love. The lights are conveying the persona as lonely and only having the time to look after the kids which the reader can then identify through that that it wouldn’t happen if she had a man like she is expected to.

I mean unless you have a prince or a real corny man there is little chance that you will be getting candles set up in the room for a romantic evening. Like let’s face it, it probably is never going to happen.  Wow, that made me sound real anti-love / romantic. I’m not I swear. Scouts honour.

All in all, I just pulled out a whole bunch of random shit from thin air, hoping that it makes sense to you and that you not going to hate on me because I can’t do poetry. Both of these poems use the same techniques to convey different ideas. Both of these poems interlink to illustrate to us, the readers, that society expects us to have a man and if we don’t we as the female population would stereotypically not be able to cope. What’s even more scary is the fact that I attempted to write a sonnet based on the idea of gender roles and expectations taken from Harwood’s poems and turned into my own. It’s probably crap so don’t hate on me too much.


When they’re gone

A mother sits, memories of her past

Surrounding her. No family, no kids

And the life the she leads now forbids

Her a purpose. The kids grew up so fast


And she is left with nothing. Tomorrow

Will be the same, a sad woman who sits

In the lonely room, her mind in a pit

Full of darkness and all of her sorrow.


Next to her lays a faded photograph, old

And torn of her family who now are gone.

The wish to have a purpose, but looks on

To a dreaded dream of her stories told.

But now as her journey ends, and her eyes

Weep, the kids fill her mind with love and lies.



Thanks for reading mates.



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