Poppies

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summary

  • the speaker describes seeing poppies on graves before armistice day
  • the speaker, a mother, remembers pinning a poppy to her son's blazer
  • she describes the differences between how she wanted to act and how she did act when he left for war
  • after the son left, the mother went upstairs to his bedroom and refers to releasing a bird from its cage
  • she goes to the churchyard, without winter clothes, and visits the war memorial, hoping to hear her son's voice from the playground as she did when he was still at school

key aspects

  • the poem uses the first person and direct address, showing the voice of the mother speaking to the son
  • weir uses connectives to create a time frame for the poem centred on the son's departure, as though everything is measured in relative to that event
  • there is a strong semantic field relating to textiles
  • the time shifts are very complex in this poem, and are perhaps deliberately unclear
  • this contributes to the theme of memory, implying a level of unreliability of memories

key setting: churchyard

  • the poem starts and ends with references to a churchyard and war graves
  • it opens with a comment about poppies on soldiers' graves, reminding us of the nature of individual suffering, while the final stanza refers to the war memorial, which is more likey to bring to mind ideas of the scale of loss

key theme: memories

  • weir presents the speaker's memories as central to the poem using time connectives such as 'before' and 'after'
  • these connectives join all of her memories together and show how the events are related; in particular how everything is related to armistice sunday and to her son's departure
  • the use of tense in the poem is another device that supports this theme
  • weir employs different past tenses to show different layers of time: the event in…

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