In the park by Gwen Harwood is a poem that expresses the feelings associated with being a mother and feeling disconnected from the outside world, an issue that rarely discussed by women. This poem mainly represents the idea of changing identity because of circumstance. The woman in the poem is being destroyed by the birth of her three children. ‘Her clothes are out of date’ uses present tense to describe how she is no longer a lively, interesting woman. She has changed to someone who only lives because of her children, and her life revolves around that factor.
The onomatopoeic ‘Two children whine and bicker, tug her skirt; creates a sense of hopelessness through imagery; the children are annoying her to get her attention but she ignores them. Her previous life, represented by her ex-boyfriend, has been lost in amongst her new role as a mother, and she has become someone different, disregarding her past, until she meets a past lover. She realises that her life has become something she never wanted it to be; she has missed opportunities, and her sense of self has diminished in amongst the lives of her children.
All of her energy has been devoted to her husband and children, and when she sees her ex-boyfriend, she feels certain resentment for her selfless giving, and wishes that she had taken another path. However, as a typical mother, she hides her feelings and continues chatting about her children, their birthdays and the like. The poem ends with the woman saying, “They have eaten me alive,” uses hyperbole which she says to the wind to emphasise the loneliness and loss of self-hood into middle age and is engulfed in the lives of her children.
This imagery is used as though her life is being ‘swept away’ by the wind, and nothing can ever be done to change that. In the park, is not a direct description of the life of Gwen Harwood, the poem speaks to all women as a cry for help. The poem emphasises the importance of friendships and strong relationships whilst also highlighting the sadness experienced by many parents as their lives changed dramatically by the arrival of children.