Emily asked in Arts & HumanitiesPoetry · 9 years ago

What is Gwen Harwood's poem "A Game of Chess" about?

Nightfall: the town’s chromatic nocturne wakes

dark brilliance on the river; colours drift

and tremble as enormous shadows lift

Orion to his place. The heart remarks

that peace torn in the blaze of day. Inside

your room are music, warmth and wine, the board

with chessmen set for play. The harpsichord

begins a fugue; delight is multiplied.

A game: the heart’s impossible ideal—

to choose among a host of paths, and know

that if the kingdom crumbles one can yield

and have the choice again. Abstract and real

joined in their trance of thought, two players show

the calm of gods above a troubled field.

Okay, is it really describing a simple game of chess? Love? I am probably reading too far into it.

3 Answers

  • Favorite Answer

    The first thought that comes to me is from the 1968 movie "The Thomas Crowne Affair" with Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway. That chess game was pure seduction, and the movie was far superior to the 1999 version with Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo.

    places to read about the poem:




    A Game of Chess" by Gwen Harwood


    "The way that the persona describes the scene of the chess game is very compelling. The simple chessboard design of the board is now described as an epic battlefield. Gwen makes a comparison between the condition of the cold battlefield outside and the calm warmth inside the room where the chessboard is set up. The persona puts responsibility in the hands of the players by assuming the possibility of the kingdom "crumbling". With this in mind, the contenders in the chess game become higher beings capable of determining the fate of the battle. Though it may just seem like an innocent game of chess, it is far more than that. It is not just a game; it is war."


    I see night in Harwood's poem with the reference to Orion (the Hunter) rising, the color of night, etc.

    I've been reading George R. R. Martin's The Game of Thrones http://www.amazon.com/dp/0345529057?tag=vikitarran...

    So I have the sense of a battlefield and the great and minor houses involved in putting a king or queen on the throne.

    Source(s): . ♪♫♪ tori ♫♪♫
  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

    For the best answers, search on this site https://shorturl.im/ax6qU

    Always love these challenges: For me, Triple Yahtzee is an extreme sport, at this age, no longer much of an athlete; tho’ it’s just a wee humblin’ to have to report, I’m much more agile sittin’ than I am on m’feet! So toss me a crossword...or today’s Crypto-puzzle... some Scrabble wit’ Ma, or a hot game o’ cribbage; for activity, I prefer a furry wet muzzle or five (Yes I’ve five!) and our own dog-park scrimmage! Tho’ I’m too busy workin’ to have time for work outs, I can be coaxed to play by a collective of insistent snouts! ~D:>

  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

    I want to ask the same question as the user above.

Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.