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Conflict in poetry (perspective)

FATHER & SON - Barn Owl and Nightfall

Julie Bain

on 22 February 2016

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Transcript of Conflict in poetry (perspective)

A conversation between two poems that reach...
Brutal, sudden death

The form of the poems - ballad
Shared rhyming scheme abab with rhyming couplet to conclude each stanza
Enjambment forces the sense of traversing time (urgently in Barn Owl and at a more considered pace in Nightfall)
The poems are homiletic
Sustained allusion of King Lear (Nightfall) points to life as tragedy ...being full of pathos


Brutal sudden death
Immature perspective
Textual integrity
& significance

social, historical, literary
Temporal decay
Mature perspective
I rose, I crept, I knew, I stood, (He swayed) I saw, I fired, I leaned, I wept
[active experiential verbs] [first person]
momentary shift in perspective... 'he swayed'
'...to dream light's useless time away' [implication of frivolous waste/foreshadowing]
'End what you have begun' - imperative
'urine scented' '...dropped, and dribbled through the loose straw tangling in bowels' [Visceral expressions of lived experience]

we stand, we pick, you take,
Let us walk
, You keep, You speak...
[shifting perspective between a shared experience] [third person & second person] [personal pronoun we/us - inclusive]
'Let us walk...' the independent clause constructs a shared, and gentle journey. [contrasts with the imperative in Barn Owl]
Forty years, lived or dreamed:
what memories pack them home.
Now the season that seemed
incredible is come.
Father and child, we stand
in time's long-promised land.

Since there's no more to taste
ripeness is plainly all.
Father, we pick our last
fruits of the temporal.
Eighty years old, you take
this late walk for my sake.

Who can be what you were?
Link your dry hand in mine,
my stick-thin comforter.
Far distant suburbs shine
with great simplicities.
Birds crowd in flowering trees,

sunset exalts its known
symbols of transience.
Your passionate face is grown
to ancient innocence.
Let us walk this hour
as if death had no power.

or were no more than sleep.
Things truly named can never
vanish from earth. You keep
a child's delight for ever
in birds, flowers, shivery-grass -
I name them as we pass.

"Be your tears wet?" You speak
as if air touched a string
near-breaking point. Your cheek
brushes on mine. Old king
your marvellous journey's done.
Your night and day are one

as you find with your white stick
the path on which you turn
home with the child once quick
to mischief, grown to learn
what sorrows, in the end,
no words, no tears can mend.

Student representation of Father and Child.
http://www.englishteacher.com.au/resources/teacherresources/teacherresource/tabid/1612/smid/2396/articleid/743/default.aspx cited 2 August, 2013
Transient nature of life recognised
The value of experience and familial relationships
Harwood 'invests the lamplit presences of the past... to illuminate pattern(s) of subsequent events'. Hoddinott, Alison, 1991, 'Gwen Harwood: The Real and Imagined World', Angus & Robertson, North Ryde, p. 1
appropriating King Lea
and alluding to Wordsworth positions the poem within a wider (and significant) literary context
themes expressed include life, death, the passing of time within the natural world - themes inscribed as universal
...holds a celebrated place in Australian poetry because her work is 'intense and brilliant, is paradoxically also understated and ambiguous.

...through a temporal gap of
'Forty years lived and dreamed'
inexorable progress of time'
Su Langker
Harwood has been positioned as a Romantic poet. Romanticism rejected tradition in favour of innovation and placed great emphasis on the poet's feelings, on responses to nature and on the power of the imagination.
her work traces 'a more masculine lineage of inspiration, and confidently takes on historical forms and masculine modes...'

Recognise the connection between Barn Owl and II Nightfall for the diptych Father and Child.
The Wilton Diptych
Richard II presented to the Virgin and Child by his Patron Saint John the Baptist and Saints Edward and Edmund
Full transcript