Poppies
Jane Weir
Jane Weir describes herself as Anglo-Italian,
and grew up in on the outskirts of
Manchester on a council...
Poppies
 
Three days before Armistice Sunday
and poppies had already been placed
on individual war graves. Before you left...
Three days before Armistice Sunday
and poppies had already been placed
on individual war graves. Before you left,
I pinned...
slowly melting. I was brave, as I walked
with you, to the front door, threw
it open, the world overflowing
like a treasure...
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Poppies by Jane Weir

Published on: Mar 4, 2016
Published in: Education      
Source: www.slideshare.net


Transcripts - Poppies by Jane Weir

  • 1. Poppies Jane Weir Jane Weir describes herself as Anglo-Italian, and grew up in on the outskirts of Manchester on a council estate. She is a textile designer, writer and poet who has lived ‘all over the place’, including in Belfast, Northern Ireland during the Troubles (in the 1980s). Weir currently lives in Derbyshire and Manchester, where she writes and runs her own textile and design business. Weir’s poem ‘Poppies’ was commissioned by Duffy as part of a collection of ten contemporary war poems which were published in the Guardian in 2009, as part of a response to the escalating conflict in Afghanistan and the Iraq inquiry. Weir describes being surprised by the ‘overwhelming response’ she had from readers across Europe to ‘Poppies’. Many of the readers who contacted her were mothers of soldiers killed in action in recent conflicts. She commented in an interview that, ‘I wrote the piece from a woman's perspective, which is quite rare, as most poets who write about war have been men. As the mother of two teenage boys, I tried to put across how I might feel if they were fighting in a war zone.’ In ‘Poppies’ she tells the ‘story’ of a mother’s experience of pain and loss as her son leaves home to go to war. She has indicated that: ‘I was subliminally thinking of Susan Owen [mother of Wilfred]… and families of soldiers killed in any war when I wrote this poem. This poem attempts on one level to address female experience and is consciously a political act.’ The poem is basically about a mother who describes her son leaving home to fight in the army and her emotional reaction to her son leaving. She feels sad, lonely and scared for his safety. She describes helping him smarten his uniform ready to leave. After he leaves, she goes to places that remind her of him, desperately trying to find any trace of him. You should compare this poem with other poems about the same themes: effects of conflict: 'The Charge of the Light Brigade'; sadness and loss: 'Futility’ , 'The Falling Leaves', 'Come On, Come Back’ .
  • 2. Poppies   Three days before Armistice Sunday and poppies had already been placed on individual war graves. Before you left, I pinned one onto your lapel, crimped petals, spasms of paper red, disrupting a blockade of yellow bias binding around your blazer.   Sellotape bandaged around my hand, I rounded up as many white cat hairs as I could, smoothed down your shirt’s upturned collar, steeled the softening of my face. I wanted to graze my nose across the tip of your nose, play at being Eskimos like we did when you were little. I resisted the impulse to run my fingers through the gelled blackthorns of your hair. All my words flattened, rolled, turned into felt,   slowly melting. I was brave, as I walked with you, to the front door, threw it open, the world overflowing like a treasure chest. A split second and you were away, intoxicated. After you’d gone I went into your bedroom, released a song bird from its cage. Later a single dove flew from the pear tree, and this is where it has led me, skirting the church yard walls, my stomach busy making tucks, darts, pleats, hat-less, without a winter coat or reinforcements of scarf, gloves.   On reaching the top of the hill I traced the inscriptions on the war memorial, leaned against it like a wishbone. The dove pulled freely against the sky, an ornamental stitch. I listened, hoping to hear your playground voice catching on the wind.
  • 3. Three days before Armistice Sunday and poppies had already been placed on individual war graves. Before you left, I pinned one onto your lapel, crimped petals, spasms of paper red, disrupting a blockade of yellow bias binding around your blazer. Sellotape bandaged around my hand, I rounded up as many white cat hairs as I could, smoothed down your shirt’s upturned collar, steeled the softening of my face. I wanted to graze my nose across the tip of your nose, play at being Eskimos like we did when you were little. I resisted the impulse to run my fingers through the gelled blackthorns of your hair. All my words flattened, rolled, turned into felt, There is no regular rhyme or rhythm in this poem, which helps to make it sound like someone's thoughts and memories. Long sentences and enjambment give an impression of someone absorbed in their own thoughts and memories. The poem starts with her son leaving and then goes on to describe what she did afterwards, but the time frame in the poem is ambiguous. A lot of the images could almost describe a young child going to school for the first time. Armistice Day (also known as Remembrance Day) is on 11 November and commemorates the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Compiègne, France, for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front, which took effect at eleven o'clock in the morning—the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month" of 1918. As this is a poem about remembrance of those who fought for their country, the poet has used this to explore her own feelings of loss and remembrance. The ‘bandage’ makes the reader think of an injured body or a mother tending her injured son. This has further connotations suggesting she is emotionally wounded. The mothering tone continues when she treats him like a child. Metaphor suggests he's no longer a child because he's styled his hair. His prickly hair suggests he's unapproachable. The use of words such as ‘blockade’ suggests that she feels shut out from her son's life and the metaphorical ‘blazer’ which could be a school uniform as well as an army one represents her pride for her son.
  • 4. slowly melting. I was brave, as I walked with you, to the front door, threw it open, the world overflowing like a treasure chest. A split second and you were away, intoxicated. After you’d gone I went into your bedroom, released a song bird from its cage. Later a single dove flew from the pear tree, and this is where it has led me, skirting the church yard walls, my stomach busy making tucks, darts, pleats, hat-less, without a winter coat or reinforcements of scarf, gloves. On reaching the top of the hill I traced the inscriptions on the war memorial, leaned against it like a wishbone. The dove pulled freely against the sky, an ornamental stitch. I listened, hoping to hear your playground voice catching on the wind. The mother is sad about leaving her son. She has feelings of anxiety and fear for her son's safety. The poem focuses on the bravery and restraint of the relatives left behind when young people go to war. The poem shows the contrasting perspectives between the loss the mother feels and the feelings of freedom and excitement her son experience There are lots of statements beginning with the first person which gives us a strong impression of the mother's emotions. The uses of metaphors create Images of war and bereavement which are mixed with domestic imagery. Birds are used as symbols of freedom to describe the son leaving the security of his home for the excitement of the wider world. The simile of ‘treasure chest’ shows the world from the son's perspective and makes it sound exciting and full of precious experiences but to the mother this can seem scary as she is worried he will never return. The word ‘intoxicated’ could simply suggest the boy’s excitement or, alternatively could symbolise his coming of age. He is old enough to drink and fight for his country signifying he is no longer a boy and has become a man. The bird is symbolic of her son leaving and doves are a symbol of peace but also mourning. Sewing imagery conveys her nervousness and physical feelings of anxiety. These can be interpreted to describe her physical feelings. Links leaving to join the army with leaving to go to school.