Gwen Harwood (Flight Of The Bumble Bee, Long After Heine) Essay, Research Paper
Gwen Harwood is a technically versatile poet, deeply interested in the materials
of her art ? in the poetic form, sounds, images, structures, voices and musical
possibilities. Long After Heine and The Flight of the Bumble Bee use each of these
poetic devices extensively, appealing to all of the readers senses in order to create
In The Flight of the Bumble Bee meaning is created by the poetic devices and
affirmed by the characters. The stanza?s and lines mimic the bumble bee as the lines are
irregular and chaotically alternate from short to long, just as the Bubble Bee weaves and
waves through the air.
Harwood positions the reader to denounce all who mutilate art in an attempt to
?Heaven Preserve me from all fumbling
spear holders on the stage of art.?
As the poem progresses, Krote grows increasingly impatient until he plays ? his absurd pantomime of a great musician wrestling hard with his instrument.? This dramatically increases the speed of the fiddler, this is reinforced by the short vowels used by Harwood. These vowels serve to make the reader read faster, in effect the short vowels speed up the pace of the poem as Krote speeds up the pace of the fiddler. Soft consonance coupled with short vowels, make the words roll off the tongue, one after the other in an almost continuos stream, leaving the reader behind in his own torrent of words. These poetic devices create meaning for the reader through personal experience. The reader gains a better understanding of the speed of the music when trying to cope with the speed of the stanza?s.
Harwood also uses images in her poems to create meaning for the reader. The images in The Flight of the Bumble Bee such as:
? . . . an insect heart?
? . . . off the scent
of any flower the bee might visit?
? . . . the honey of applause.? All focus around the central image of the bee. This imagery encourages the reader to link all the stanza?s back to the music and provides a comic visual analogy to assist in creating meaning. Other images such as the ?storm? also assist the reader in visualizing the meaning of the poem. These images compress all the emotions of Krote into one or two words, such as the foreboding of the ?storm? and the insignificance of the ?woman with the bust? because she is an ?amateur with an insect heart?.
It is through Krote that, as readers, we transform our understanding of the poem from simply a poem about a ?fiddler? playing a song, to a poem about Krote?s love of music and the extent he is prepared to go in order to defend what he believes is right. It is through Harwood?s use of sounds, images and structure that we can experience it ourselves.
Long After Heine uses the sounds and structure of the poem to almost exclusively, create meaning. Harwood opens the poem with the monotony of the woman?s life:
?The washing machine was chuffing
Ja-PAN Ja-PAN Ja-PAN
as she hustled her husband townwards
and her lonely day began.?
It is Harwood?s use of onomatopoeia that allows the reader to fully understand the way that the sounds of the woman?s surroundings are depressing her and sending her into a trance-like state. The long vowels used by Harwood in order to slow down the pace of the poem, the repetition of Ja-PAN and the alliteration of ?hustling her husband?, all merge to suggest to the reader that not only are her days monotonous, but they are also repetitive.
In the second stanza, Harwood uses internal rhyme to symbolize the internal struggle the woman has between her duties and her fantasies,
?? baby screamed?
? windows streamed?
? she dreamed??
Harwood?s use of alliteration when the samurai ?hushed the howling baby? has three effects, one to speed up the poem, two to increase the tension and three the words put sound to the ?swish of his blade.? ?And then? and then she rested,? this line breaks the tension and slows the reader from the sudden action. The samurai reciting haiku ??conjured word by word? gives the poem a mystical tone and allows Harwood to use the break as a transition from the woman?s dreams to a look at many pointless aspects of life.
?a fan seller dispensing
coolness in summer heat;
a fly under the flyswat
wringing his hands and feet;?
Harwood is using the woman reflecting on the pointlessness of her life, to suggest that sometimes there is not anything you can do to stop what is happening to you and she hints at the presence of a higher power in control of fate. At the end of the poem ?lonely day? is repeated as ?lonely woman? implying to the reader that the situation has not been resolved at all. Harwood neglects to mention the husband at all in the poem, the husband is the cause of most of the woman?s problems because he neglects his responsibility as a husband and as a father.
The poem is written with two lines in each stanza rhyming this represents the trance-like state the woman is in.
The meaning of a poem can be created by understanding the words of the poem alone, but in Harwood?s poems, it is rare for her not to use all the poetic devices available to her. If the poet is using more aspects of poetry than just the literal words then a reader examining the literal alone at best can only hope to create half of the meaning that is intended for the poem. As a result, meaning from Harwood?s poetry can only be created by examining the combination of all the poetic devices at her disposal.
Long After Heine is a poem about emotions, emotions are hard to express in words but can, to some extent, be expressed in sounds and rhythm when combined with images of an event. This is how Harwood uses sounds, structure and images to create meaning in her poems.
Gwen Harwood in both, Long After Heine and The Flight of the Bumble Bee, uses poetic form, sounds, images, structures, voices and musical possibilities together and constantly changes them to try to evoke the same emotions as the characters in her plays. When she succeeds, she places the reader in a better position to understand the actions of her characters and as a result, create meaning in her play.