A KITCHEN POEM
The farmer to his wife
Now the land shawls itself in gloom.
The mountain puts enchantment on.
I sit in this plain-spoken room,
and soon the cares of day are gone:
crows, starlings, eelworm, codlin moth,
all nature's murderous hosts are sweeping
from thought upon night's tide like froth.
Now tired with light my son is sleeping.
Too great with child to sit at ease
beside the window stands my wife
dreaming herself away from these
four walls to scintillating life,
where brats and all thier fierce demands
don't happen. Brains are put to use.
Where tongues are cool with wit, and hands
unnstained by work or walnut-juice.
Dear wife, let keen bluestockings grieve
over their academic wrongs;
astringent lady poets leave
the real world for nreal songs;
career-made women reaffirm
their stnad against male dominance
elegant busybodies worm
scandal from every careless glance.
Used to each other as to air
we do not speak. But over all
my ripening fields and orchards where
Orion leads a waterfall
of stars, and dying summer's led
to fruitfulness, your beauty lies.
Children and work and daily bread
are rich beneath your royal skies.
This composition is - quite blatantly - an address of "The farmer to his wife". Aside from the obvious, the poem is, about The farmer - in his own mind (and in the mind of the wife) - escaping the painful reality from the "four walls to scintillating life" - city life. The 'painful reality' evidently from the first verse, the countryside or rather, farm life. Such a landscape is depicted in such a moody personification. "Now the land shawls itself in gloom./The mountain puts enchantment on" shows that the setting is in fact at nighttime countryside.
Another blatant point is that the person speaking is the Farmer himself. It appears that he is somewhat contemplating, or reminiscing for he "sit in this plain-spoken room, and soon the cares of day are gone". The contemplative language that was used throughout the poem conveys to readers that yes, he does in fact want to live in the city. Or is it Gwen Harwood who really is longing, for it is commonly known that the majority if not, all of her poes are based on the events that had occurred within her life. Yet it this is taking the study completely out of context, the subject is the Farmer, not her.
The farmer simultaenously portrays a negetive image and a positive one as well. The negetive image is the country and the farm life to which he is getting sick off, whilst the positive image is the city-life to which he and his wife just longs for. Another reference neither the wife cannot approach in the real world, but by "dreaming herself away from these/ four walls to scintillating life". The reason why this time, the wife was brought into concern, was that not only does the farmer has his own problems in terms of managing his crops, but she too have problems dealing with "brats and all their fierce demands". It is easy to instigate the potential statement that she is a housewife. Which is why she too, also longs for the same thing.
Each of the stanzas are quantains to which each contain regualr line lengths. This structure is uncommon from Gwen Harwood as she alternatively add or subtract syllables. Nevertheless, the structure is to somewhat subliminally communicate the readers that some order in the Farmer's life is desired. To gain peace that all is what it is.
This poem - once again albeit strange for Gwen Harwood to write such a poem - is to illustrate the glorious life of the city. The life that is very much desired by – in the context of the poem – the farmer.