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"A Game of Chess" Gwen Harwood

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by

Madeleine Walker

on 10 September 2014

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Transcript of "A Game of Chess" Gwen Harwood

To John Brodie
Nightfall: the town’s chromatic nocturne wakes
dark brilliance on the river; colours drift
and tremble as enormous shadows lift
Orion to his place. The heart remakes
that peace torn in the blaze of day. Inside
your room are music, warmth and wine, the board
with chessmen set for play. The harpsichord
begins a fugue; delight is multiplied.

A game: the heart’s impossible ideal –
to choose among a host of paths, and know
that if the kingdom crumbles one can yield
and have the choice again. Abstract and real
joined in their trance of thought, two players show
the calm of gods above a troubled field.
"A Game of Chess"
Questions

Harwood uses devices like personification, imagery and symbolism to create a picture of the abstract concept of love in the minds of the readers.
Personification - the human like movements of non human things adds a personal affect which reflects the person level of love.
Imagery - Love is abstract. Harwood creates this perfect, relaxed scene to explain the concept of love to the best of her abilities.
Symbolism - The game of chess itself symbolizes love and its complexities.
In the poem "A Game of Chess," the poet Gwen Harwood suggests that, like chess, love is a dance between two people that can last or end quickly. When a match is lost in chess, one can play a new game; similarly, in love, when a relationship ends, one can and wants to choose a new path and begin again because its is in our human nature to love.
So What?
"A Game of Chess" Gwen Harwood
The poem is an Italian sonnet.
The poem compares love to a game of chess.
It explains that love is so natural that even when we experience disappointment and loss, we still return to it.
Love, like chess, requires a series of calculated decisions in order to succeed.
In a good game of chess, balance between opponents allows the game to last, and could technically go on forever, however, when players are imbalanced, the game ends quickly; either of these things can occur in a relationship.
About Gwen Harwood
1920 - 1995
She was from Brisbane, Australia.
Unlike many other poets, she was an activist of existential and emotional experiences, not political or social.
She used pseudonyms, such as Walter Lehnamm, Alan Carvosse, Miriam Stone and W.W Hagendoor, when she first began to write and publish poetry.
She initially wanted to be a musician, and was fully trained in music. She was also a well known librettist, a person who writes vocal works.
Question 1
All of the following are personified, EXCEPT:
A) The nocturne
B) Colors
C) Shadows
D) The heart
E) Delight
Question 2

The word Blaze, in line 5, contrasts what element in the poem:
A) The chessmen
B) The Heart
C) Night
D) The Kingdom
E) Delight
Question 3
What literary device is most significant in the second stanza:
A) Oxymoron
B) Allegory
C) Hyperbole
D) Alliteration
E) Simile
Question 4
Overall, the poem represents:
A) Political downfall
B) Aging
C) Religion
D) A game of chess
E) Love
Question 5
The author’s use of nature through the poem implies that she believes love is:
A) A waste of time
B) Only experienced once
C) Destined to fail
D) One of the most natural human emotions
E) Inferior to nature
Full transcript