Original poem reprinted online here: Analysis of "In the Park" by Gwen Harwood
Originally read: January 3, 2013
More information about the Poet: Gwen Harwood
So I warn my students about this when creating a sonnet -- "don't rhyme -ing words -- it's too easy." Why? Because my teachers warned me about doing such a thing. On one hand rhyming verbs ending in --ing is too open (basically anything works); however, on the other hand the usage verb vs gerund would be intersting (one focusing on action vs the other appropriating the noun with action). However, this poem doesn't do that. The -ing here, I won't say it's easy, but brings in a certain sense of the mundane that is a theme in the poem.
On the first read, I only talk about form, "I'm not sure about the monosyllabic rhyme scheme. A part of me thinks it's too simple, but simplicity, for the first part of the poem details the woman's life -- simply matter of fact."
I touch upon how form mimics the content. So for an Italian sonnet I feel the volta is a bit off. The line "They stand while in flickering light, rehearsing" just continues on with the narrative in stanza one. However, the iambics are perfect, a little too perfect. To transfer technique into content: the volta (content --the epiphany realization) doesn't happen until the end; meanwhile, on the outside (construct -- a creation of sound) reflects the "happy" life the children have, not so much the mother though.
And it's easy to see how mundane her life is, "her clothes are out of date" "to feign indifference to that casual nod" "'how nice et cetera." This outward sense of the mundane continues until the end where their is the epiphany realization "'They have eaten me alive."
I write this about the last quote, "says vs whispers voice meant to be heard by an audience but doesn't go anywhere." Meh past me. It's more of that "say" fits the iambic meter so conveniently.
I could see the appeal to this poem -- living a mundane life and realizing it's only going to get worse. The poem is well constructed in form and content. I don't know, there seems to be something missing. Like my thoughts haven't changed at all about this poem since I first read it, then analyzed it, then looked back again now. it's the same. And even though this might be what the poet intended, I'm just looking for something more.I suppose.