Unseen Side

Nicholas Sparks once wrote “Poetry wasn’t written to be analysed; it was meant to inspire without reason, to touch without understanding.” But when your English teacher tells you to analyse, you analyse without question; and so my comparative analysing of Gwen Harwood begins.
Harwood very obviously focus’ on the idea of a stressed and worn out single mother. Which is a very strange concept coming from a woman who is happily married with four children… She basically adds some symbolism, biblical references and a hell of a lot of enjambment, see what I did there, to create a feeling of sympathy towards this mother who is always depicted as having devil like, I’ll stop now, children. Examples such as “two children whine and bicker”, “they have eaten me alive” and “two children…scream and fight” show that her kids are anything but angels, again apologies.

One quote in particular “They have eaten me alive”, made me laugh when I first read it; all that came to my head was warned words from teachers and my mother of “Once you have a kid your life is over.” Which is basically what she’s saying but with a more dramatic and poetic feel. She obviously didn’t get ‘The Talk’.

Harwood’s poems, particularly ‘In the Park’ and ‘Suburban Sonnet’ have a certain structure to them. She simply writes the 1st half explaining how hard the mum has it and then the 2nd half she drops some deep symbolism bomb shell. In ‘Suburban Sonnet’ children run to a dead mouse and are uncomfortable about the sight, which could be then linked to the mother being seen as the dead mouse and the children’s dependency on the mother being alive to look after them. I warned you it was deep.

It was ‘suggested’, otherwise known as forced, that I write a poem capturing elements of Harwood’s style and make it my own. To make it as easy as possible, my idea came from ‘In The Park’ which is about a single mother, and so my poem is taking that idea and seeing it from the other side. Where the father is and what he’s feeling. Something I feel like a lot of people miss in society. They hear one side and regard it as the only opinion. If anything I hope to bring an ‘unseen side’ to attention.


He sits in the pub. Staring into space,

watching some children playing outside,

reminding him of his children that she hides.

He would do anything to see their faces

Contemplating the failed court cases,

where he was deemed as an unfit father,

she was granted to be their sole carer.

His heart is full of empty spaces.

They stand a while in flickering light,

just enough time to recognise who they are.

It’s been years since he last heard or saw them.

‘Should I say hello? Surely I’m allowed that right.’


That concludes my ‘suggested’ work. I’ve taken lines such as “stand a while in flickering light” “…sits in a ….” from ‘In the Park’ and changed them to suit my story of a man wanting to have possession of his children and being declined this right. They mother of his children and his children walks past where he was looking and he notices the difference in the way his children are (aged). It’s a typically unheard side of the story which is hinted by the bold lettering that is a title.


by C.S.


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