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Analyse the Language Used in the Poem 'Poppies' by Jane Weir

In this worksheet, students will analyse the language devices used in the poem 'Poppies' by Jane Weir. They will also gain an understanding of the wider context of the poem.

'Analyse the Language Used in the Poem 'Poppies' by Jane Weir' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 4

GCSE Subjects:   English Literature

GCSE Boards:   AQA, Pearson Edexcel

Curriculum topic:   Poetry, Poetry Anthology Collections

Curriculum subtopic:   Power and Conflict: 'Poppies', Conflict: 'Poppies'

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

For this activity, you will need to turn to the poem 'Poppies' by Jane Weir, which can be found in the Power and Conflict section of your Anthology.

 

Poppies

 

'Poppies' looks at the mother of a son who has grown up and gone to war. The poem contains many clues that this is a modern conflict, however the poem ends at the memorial, suggesting the son died at war and is now missed by the mother who fears the worst. The poem is based heavily around the idea of poppies and the idea of memory. The poem explores sadness and pride and unusually avoids commenting on the war itself.

 

In the following questions, you will be asked to analyse the language devices used in the poem.

Think about the title of the poem 'Poppies'. The title uses a technique called symbolism to create tone and imagery. Which words would you associate with 'Poppies', and which would you not?

 

 Words associated with PoppiesWords NOT associated
Remembrance
Violence
Death
War
Sunshine
Mothers

The poem 'Poppies' contains a number of language techniques, all designed to create an effect on the reader. Can you match the technique to the definition?

 

War cemetery

Column A

Column B

Alliteration
Repeating words over a verse, stanza or poem
Onomatopoeia
Comparing two or more objects with 'like' or 'as'
Repetition
Direct comparison of two things
Metaphor
Words which sound like the effect they describe
Oxymoron
Words beginning with the same letter sounds
Personification
Describing an inanimate object or animal with huma...
Simile
Two words placed together with different meanings
Stanza
A collection of verses, similar to a paragraph

Read this quotation from the poem 'Poppies':


"Disrupting a blockade
of yellow bias binding around your blazer"

Soldiers on battlefield



Have a look at the underlined words. What language technique does the writer use here?

 

Simile

Personification

Alliteration

Onomatopoeia

Oxymoron

Read the first stanza of 'Poppies'. Which of the following words create imagery of violence, and which do not?

 

Remember you can read the text again in your poetry anthology.

 Violent ImageryNOT Violent Imagery
Armistace
Placed
Pinned
Lapel
Crimped
Spasms
Disrupting

Read this extract from the poem 'Poppies':

 

 "Steeled the softening of my face"

 

What language technique is the poet using here? Choose two answers.

Simile

Metaphor

Oxymoron

Sibilance

Onomatopoeia

Read this quotation from the poem 'Poppies':

 

"I resisted the impulse to run my fingers through the gelled blackthorns of your hair."

 

 

 

What language technique is the poet using here?

 

Simile

Oxymoron

Personification

Metaphor

Onomatopoeia

Read the following quotation from the poem 'Poppies':

 

"The world overflowing like a treasure chest"

 

treasure chest overflowing with riches


 

 What language technique does the poet use here to describe the world?

 

 

Metaphor

Onomatopoeia

Alliteration

Personification

Simile

​We've been looking at how the mother and son feel differently about him going to war.

 

war memorial

 

Can you underline the verbs which tell us that the mother does not say how she really feels?

\"All my words flattened, rolled, turned into felt, slowly melting\"

Verbs are used again in the following quotation:

 

"I was brave as I walked with you to the front door, threw it open"

 

Peace dove

 

Can you explain the effect of the language device used in this quotation?

 

 

For this question, you will have to write your answer using the PEE format - Make a point, give an example, explain with deeper detail.

 

 

 

Finally, try out this True or False quiz on 'Poppies' to check your learning!

 

Good luck!

 TrueFalse
The poem starts three days before Armistice Sunday
The mother pins a poppy onto her jacket
The mother takes time to make her son look neat and tidy
The mother runs her fingers through her sons gelled hair
The mother tells her son that she doesn't want him to leave
The son is not looking forward to leaving home
After he has left the mother visits the supermarket
In the churchyard she sees a dove flying free
  • Question 1

Think about the title of the poem 'Poppies'. The title uses a technique called symbolism to create tone and imagery. Which words would you associate with 'Poppies', and which would you not?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
 Words associated with PoppiesWords NOT associated
Remembrance
Violence
Death
War
Sunshine
Mothers
EDDIE SAYS
I'm sure you will have seen poppies worn on clothes as a mark of respect on Remembrance Day. They symbolise the fallen soldiers of World War I as it was poppies that grew on the battlefields afterward. We refer to this technique as symbolism and the words associated with the title as connotations. Jane Weir uses the title to explain the narrator's sense of loss and grief she feels when her much-loved son goes away to war.
  • Question 2

The poem 'Poppies' contains a number of language techniques, all designed to create an effect on the reader. Can you match the technique to the definition?

 

War cemetery

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

Alliteration
Words beginning with the same let...
Onomatopoeia
Words which sound like the effect...
Repetition
Repeating words over a verse, sta...
Metaphor
Direct comparison of two things
Oxymoron
Two words placed together with di...
Personification
Describing an inanimate object or...
Simile
Comparing two or more objects wit...
Stanza
A collection of verses, similar t...
EDDIE SAYS
Language devices are fantastic methods of creating tone and description. They can alter a mood, or even just provide us with imagery so that we can interact better with the poem. They also give you something to analyse in your exam! It's important that you understand these techniques, as they really enhance your ability to write about a poem.
  • Question 3

Read this quotation from the poem 'Poppies':


"Disrupting a blockade
of yellow bias binding around your blazer"

Soldiers on battlefield



Have a look at the underlined words. What language technique does the writer use here?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
Alliteration
EDDIE SAYS
The underlined words all begin with the letter 'b', which means that this is an example of alliteration. The repetition of the 'b' sounds emphasises how the mother is fussing over her son and constantly rearranging and smartening him up. These words also show how the red poppy is in contrast to the colour of his uniform.
  • Question 4

Read the first stanza of 'Poppies'. Which of the following words create imagery of violence, and which do not?

 

Remember you can read the text again in your poetry anthology.

CORRECT ANSWER
 Violent ImageryNOT Violent Imagery
Armistace
Placed
Pinned
Lapel
Crimped
Spasms
Disrupting
EDDIE SAYS
The verbs "pinned", "crimped" and "spasms" suggest injury and pain - perhaps this is a sign of what's in store for the young soldier. The use of the verb "disrupting" also sets the violent tone of the poem, as though the boy is going to face difficulties, but it could also suggest that the mother wishes she could stop her son from leaving.
  • Question 5

Read this extract from the poem 'Poppies':

 

 "Steeled the softening of my face"

 

What language technique is the poet using here? Choose two answers.

CORRECT ANSWER
Metaphor
Sibilance
EDDIE SAYS
This sentence really shows the power of a mothers love. The poet uses a metaphor "steeled the softness" to show how the mother is desperately trying to hide her emotions. The word 'steel' is made into a verb here to describe the action of the mother making her face seem normal when what she really wants to do is cry! Here's a new technique - sibilance, which gives a calm tone to the scene in the room, created by the 's' sound.
  • Question 6

Read this quotation from the poem 'Poppies':

 

"I resisted the impulse to run my fingers through the gelled blackthorns of your hair."

 

 

 

What language technique is the poet using here?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
Metaphor
EDDIE SAYS
The poet uses the metaphor "blackthorns" to describe the boy's hair. This is a reference to his shortened, gelled hair which he has created for his time in the military. The mother is shocked at how aggressive it makes her son appear - his hair is spiky and sharp, like thorns!
  • Question 7

Read the following quotation from the poem 'Poppies':

 

"The world overflowing like a treasure chest"

 

treasure chest overflowing with riches


 

 What language technique does the poet use here to describe the world?

 

 

CORRECT ANSWER
Simile
EDDIE SAYS
The poet uses a simile to describe how the world is "overflowing like a treasure chest". A simile is a figure of speech used to compare two things in an interesting way - it usually uses the words 'like' or 'as'. In this case, the writer is describing how exciting and full the outside world is to someone young like her son. Although she doesn't want him to go, she realises that she must let him experience the world.
  • Question 8

​We've been looking at how the mother and son feel differently about him going to war.

 

war memorial

 

Can you underline the verbs which tell us that the mother does not say how she really feels?

CORRECT ANSWER
"All my words flattened, rolled, turned into felt, slowly melting"
EDDIE SAYS
In this line, we learn that the mother is tongue-tied and unable to express how she truly feels. She is proud of her son but also doesn't want him to go. The verb "melting" creates the impression that she has something to say, but is unable to form the words. There is also a list of three here, which emphasises just how frustrated she feels.
  • Question 9

Verbs are used again in the following quotation:

 

"I was brave as I walked with you to the front door, threw it open"

 

Peace dove

 

Can you explain the effect of the language device used in this quotation?

 

 

For this question, you will have to write your answer using the PEE format - Make a point, give an example, explain with deeper detail.

 

 

 

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Example answer: The poet wants to show the bravery of the mother, who acts as though she is fine in order to not upset her son on his first day in the army. The poet explains how she "walked with you to the front door, threw it open" to cover up the fact that she didn't really want to let him go. The verb 'threw' suggests that the mother opened the door with force, as though she was trying to show her son that she was happy for him to go. She would've wanted her son to set off to war feeling confident, rather than worrying that he had left his mother worried. You could also say that this action is symbolic and that opening the door symbolises the mother's acceptance that she has to let him go.

Although the whole of this question is marked out of 30, for this answer the student will only be making one point (AQA recommends that a student makes 3 comparison points throughout the essay) so we will mark this answer out of 6.
In order to gain full marks on this question the student should have written an extended paragraph that follows the PEE structure.
You should find a point, an example and an explanation.
The paragraph should include a quotation, language technique and some evaluation

  • Question 10

Finally, try out this True or False quiz on 'Poppies' to check your learning!

 

Good luck!

CORRECT ANSWER
 TrueFalse
The poem starts three days before Armistice Sunday
The mother pins a poppy onto her jacket
The mother takes time to make her son look neat and tidy
The mother runs her fingers through her sons gelled hair
The mother tells her son that she doesn't want him to leave
The son is not looking forward to leaving home
After he has left the mother visits the supermarket
In the churchyard she sees a dove flying free
EDDIE SAYS
'Poppies' looks at the mother of a son who has grown up and gone to war and ends at the memorial, suggesting the son died at war or has at least not yet returned home, and is now missed by the mother, who fears the worst. The poem is based very heavily around the idea of Poppies as memorials and therefore the idea of memory. The poem flashes back to key moments of the life of the mother and son.
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