Poppies - Resources for Miss Archer's GCSE classes

Poppies - Resources for Miss Archer's GCSE classes

Poppies By Jane Weir Learning Objective To understand the context and subject matter of the poem. A series of numbers relating to recent conflicts will appear on the following slides. Your task, as a group, is to suggest what you think the numbers might represent. 94,27 9 Estimated number of civilians who were killed in Iraq due to violence between the beginning of the war in

2003 and 18 October 2009 Source: iraqbodycount.org 3 3.2 billion Cost of war in Iraq and Afghanistan to Britain (up to March 2008) Source: 10 March 2008, timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/iraq /article3522202.ece 4 1,500 Estimated civilian casualties in war in Afghanistan

(JanuaryAugust 2009) Source: UN/wikipedia 5 44 and 79 Life expectancy in Afghanistan (44) compared to life expectancy in Britain (79) Sources: Unicef and Wikipedia 6 56 Percentage of people in a UK poll who said they were

against the war in Afghanistan (in October 2009) Source: BBC News 12 October 2009 7 414 Number of British servicemen and women killed in Iraq and Afghanistan (2002October 2009) Source: guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2009/sep/17/ afghanistan-casualties-dead-wounded-british-data 8 5070 million

Total estimated dead as a consequence of World War Two Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_II_casualties 9 What AND who is represented by the poppy? Based on your understanding of the poppy and its connotations, what do you anticipate this poem will be about? This poem is about the human cost of conflict. As we read, listen out for any words which convey a sense

of loss or pain. Weirs poem Poppies was commissioned 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. I listened, hoping to your playg hear round voic e catching on the win d. ze my nose I wanted to gra t r nose, play a

u yo f o p ti e across th hen s like we did w o im sk E g in e

b . you were little out hat-less, with , ents of scarf m e rc fo in re t or a winter coa gloves

my stomach bu sy making tucks, darts, pleats I pinned on e onto you r lapel, crimped pe tals, spasms of p aper red ound my hand, Sellotape bandaged ar white cat hairs

I rounded up as many wn your shirts as I could, smoothed do the softening upturned collar, steeled of my face. I resisted the im pulse to run my finge rs through the gelled blackthorns of your hair. This poem is about the mothers emotions, shown through sensory details and other images What does each detail or image represent?

Learning Objective To explore how the writer uses theme, language and structure to present war. I applied the technique of felt making to this poem because it seemed apt to the process of grief. The slow remembrance of layering, the think wadding, which over time creates a density thats almost impenetrable, the muffled deadness of the texture of felt and its ability to denote dumbness, padding and the impossibility of the open expression of grief, how the felt merges and melts, and how if one is to grieve one has to, at some point, allow this to dissolve. And the poem does this; it breaks when the mother goes into her sons empty bedroom. (Jane Weir) Re-read the poem,

matching lines to the images 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 shirts 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 youd 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. JANE WEIR 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 shirts 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 youd 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. JANE WEIR ed to k

n li s d r o w t Highligh Sewing Clothes Injury Childhood War Armistice Day/Remembrance Sunday is traditionally linked to WWI, but this is a poem set in modern day. Why might the poet evoke such imagery?

What does this image remind us of regarding war? Repetition: emphasises the parallel between national and personal mourning and remembrance. 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. What connotations does the word spasms hold? What might this foreshadow? What does this word suggest about the mothers involvement in the sons decision to leave? Under what circumstances could the son be wearing a blazer? Could there be more than one? What does this suggest about the mothers view of her son?

Another image which allows foreshadowing of what? Who else might be wounded in this poem? Caesura: reflects the mothers attempt to stay in control. She doesnt let her emotions run away with her. Sellotape bandaged around my hand, I rounded up as many white cat hairs as I could, smoothed down your shirts 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, The blackthorns allude to Jesus, who wore a crown of thorns when he was crucified as a sacrifice for the sins of humanity. What does this suggest may happen to the son? What else might this hair suggest about the son? A domestic, motherly image.

Alliteration: what does this emphasise? What does this reference to the sense of touch suggest about the mothers emotions? What does she long for? a) Suggests she speaks softly b) Another domestic image c) A pun on the word felt, i.e. she must suppress her feelings until later Enjambment continues the idea of the But this is followed by caesura: what mothers composure disappearing with the

does this suggest about the speaker? melting of her words. What kind of [Hint: look at the words which follow.] emotions would melt? slowly melting. I was brave, as I walked What does this verb with you, to the front door, threw suggest? it open, the world overflowing like a treasure chest. A split second This simile shows and you were away, intoxicated. the world from What are the the sons connotations of perspective

this word? what does it suggest? How does Weir create a contrast between the mother and the son at their moment of parting? Symbolism hint: Doves represent peace but also mourning. Pear trees are symbolic of human salvation and longevity of life. Sewing imagery: what does this suggest about her state of mind? What does this metaphor symbolise?

After youd gone I went into your bedroom, released a song bird from its cage. And this one? 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. These are images associated with war, again reminiscent of WWI. How does this battle imagery make the mother seem? Another link to WWI: what does the

memorial suggest to the mother? To us? Another reference to touch. The memorial is a solid object, unlike her memories. 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. A strong visual image of something small and beautiful in a vast space represents her son.

What does this simile represent? What does the alliteration suggest? your playground voice what meanings might this last line have? You are going to work in groups to prepare a handout for the rest of the class on one aspect of the poem. Group 1 The poet explores the speakers emotional journey.

Identify the different emotions of the speaker in the poem. Do these emotions change in different stanzas? Is there anything else in the poem that suggests the idea of a journey? Write a paragraph of analysis (using quotations) to explain your ideas. Produce a handout for the class Challenge: Link this to the themes of power and conflict Group 2 The poet makes use of emotive and sensory imagery. (Stanzas 1 and 2) Make a list of all the metaphors and similes in the poem, and then group them according to whether they are related to emotions or senses.

Choose the metaphor or simile that you think is most effective, and explain why. (Its effect on the reader) Write a paragraph of analysis (using quotations) to explain your ideas. Produce a handout for the class Challenge: Link this to the themes of power and conflict Group 3 The poet makes use of emotive and sensory imagery. (Stanzas 3 and 4) Make a list of all the metaphors and similes in the poem, and then group them according to whether they are related to emotions or senses. Choose the metaphor or simile that you think is most effective, and explain why. (Its effect on the reader) Write a paragraph of analysis (using quotations) to explain your ideas.

Produce a handout for the class Challenge: Link this to the themes of power and conflict Group 4 The poem is an elegy or lament (a poem of mourning, grief or regret, usually associated with the death of someone). What tense is the poem written in? How does this contribute to the elegiac tone? Some of the symbols and references in the poem are associated with death make a list of them. Identify any words, phrases, lines or stanzas from the poem that you think are relevant. Write a paragraph of analysis (using quotations) to explain your ideas. Produce a handout for the class Challenge: Link this to the themes of power and conflict

Group 5 The poet describes the poem as a narrative journey through memory, and the poems structure reflects this. Identify the different memories the speaker refers to in the poem. Do these memories change in different stanzas? The poem is very much like a narrative or story. How does Weir achieve this effect? Write a paragraph of analysis (using quotations) to explain your ideas. Produce a handout for the class Challenge: Link this to the themes of power and conflict Group 6 The poet makes effective use of enjambment and caesura (a

pause that breaks up a line of verse) throughout the poem. Now look at the line and stanza structure. Does the use of enjambment or caesura contribute to the idea of a journey, for example? Why are the stanzas of different lengths? Look at the rhyme scheme. Can you find any rhyming patterns? What is the effect? Write a paragraph of analysis (using quotations) to explain your ideas. Produce a handout for the class Challenge: Link this to the themes of power and conflict Feedback Pick a spokesperson for your group. Tell us one thing you have included on your handout.

Form, structure and tone: Poppies The first person narrative means that the reader gets a strong impression of the mothers emotions. There is no regular rhyme or rhythm which makes it sound like the narrators thoughts and memories. Long sentences and enjambment give the impression that the narrator is absorbed in her own thoughts and memories, whilst caesura show how she tries to hold her emotions together. The poem is chronological, describing preparations for the son leaving, his departure and then what his mother does afterwards, however the time frame is ambiguous memories of the sons childhood are intermingle with memories of him leaving, and theyre not always distinguished. Its time to summarise! Were going to make a note of the poems VITALS.

Poetry VITALS Voice: Who is speaking in the poem? Imagery: What imagery is being created? is it effective? How Theme: What are the main themes featured in the poem? Address: Who is the poem addressed to? Why? Language (Features): What type of language/ devices are used? What is their effect? Structure: How is the poem laid out? What is the effect of this?

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