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Evaluate the Language Techniques used in the poem 'Poppies' by Jane Weir

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

'Evaluate the Language Techniques 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.

 

Poppy

 


'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 evaluate the language devices used in the poem.

Summer field with poppies

 

Read the poem 'Poppies'. Which of these summaries best describes what the poem is about?

 

A mother tries to convince her son not to join the army. He does not listen to her pleas

A mother describes the moment her son leaves to fight in a war. The memory is very painful for her

A mother describes the day of her sons funeral, mixed with memories from the day he went to fight in the war that killed him, as well as memories of him when he was a child

Read this quotation from the poem 'Poppies':

 

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

 

Aeroplanes fighting in the sky

 

Think about what this quotation tells us about how the mother is feeling. Which adjectives describe how the mother is feeling, and which do not?

 

 Words associated with the quotationWords NOT associated with the quotation
Hopeful
Proud
Strong
Defiant
Sad
Disappointed
Anxious
Annoyed

Think about the poem 'Poppies'. A tense is a form of a verb that is used to indicate the time of an action. What tense do you think the poem is written in?

 

 

Stop watch on paper

 

Past tense

Present tense

Future tense

Empty swing in playground

 

We have just established that the poem 'Poppies is written in Past tense. Now let's evaluate why the writer chose to do this. 

Read the following quotation and choose three comments which you think show the importance of the poem being in past tense.

 

"I listened, hoping to hear
your playground voice catching on the wind"

The mother is able to reflect on her sons childhood and this creates a sense of loss

It helps to suggest to the reader that the son may now be dead

It tells us that the war is now over

It helps to create the sense that the son has already left and the mother feels sadness that she cannot change the situation now

It tells us that the war happened a long time ago

Language techniques are used throughout the poem to create imagery. Let's evaluate the effect of these techniques on the reader.

The following quotation contains a simile. Select one explanation from the list below, which you think evaluates the effect of this simile on the reader.

 

"The world overflowing 
like a treasure chest"

 

 

Treasure chest overflowing with riches

 

This simile creates the impression that the boy will pay greatly for going to war

This simile creates the impression that the boy was better off at home and he will lose all that is precious if he walks out of the door

This use of this simile describes the way in which the boy see's the world as a place which is 'overflowing' with great experiences and new pleasures

war memorial

 

Read the following quotation from 'Poppies' and fill in the two blanks from the explanation below:

This simile creates the impression that the boy will pay greatly for going to war

This simile creates the impression that the boy was better off at home and he will lose all that is precious if he walks out of the door

This use of this simile describes the way in which the boy see's the world as a place which is 'overflowing' with great experiences and new pleasures

Read the following quotation from 'Poppies':

 

"The dove pulled freely against the sky"

 

What does this quotation tell the reader about how the son feels?

 

Peace dove

 

 

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

On line 16 the narrator describes her son's hair as "blackthorns", which is a metaphor for the crown made from thorns that Jesus wore when he was crucified. What type of reference is this?

thorn
 

A motif

A symbol

An allusion

An abjection

Look again at the quotation from the last question:

 

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

 

Can you explain the effect of 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 quiz on the language devices used in 'Poppies' to check your learning!

 

Good luck!

 SymbolismSimileSibilanceMetaphorVerbs
"Your shirt's upturned collar steeled the softening of my face"
"The gelled blackthorns of your hair"
"All my words flattened rolled turned"
"The world overflowing like a treasure chest"
"The dove pulled freely against the sky"
  • Question 1

Summer field with poppies

 

Read the poem 'Poppies'. Which of these summaries best describes what the poem is about?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
A mother describes the moment her son leaves to fight in a war. The memory is very painful for her
EDDIE SAYS
The poem describes the difficult emotions of a mother who is preparing her son to go to war. She is both proud of the man he has become and heartbroken that he is leaving her. She also thinks back to a time when he was a little boy and is devastated at the end of the poem when it becomes clear that he has not returned from war. The poem takes place just before Remembrance Sunday, the day when men and women from the two World Wars (and later conflicts) are remembered. Poppies are worn as a symbol of remembrance for the people who lost their lives.
  • Question 2

Read this quotation from the poem 'Poppies':

 

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

 

Aeroplanes fighting in the sky

 

Think about what this quotation tells us about how the mother is feeling. Which adjectives describe how the mother is feeling, and which do not?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
 Words associated with the quotationWords NOT associated with the quotation
Hopeful
Proud
Strong
Defiant
Sad
Disappointed
Anxious
Annoyed
EDDIE SAYS
In this quotation, the mother is clearly very sad and anxious (worried) that she is letting her son go into a situation where his life will be in danger and where she cannot protect him. Despite this, she wants her son to go to war knowing that she is proud of him, after all this may be the last time that she sees him! So, she decides to be strong and does her best to hide her feelings from him.
  • Question 3

Think about the poem 'Poppies'. A tense is a form of a verb that is used to indicate the time of an action. What tense do you think the poem is written in?

 

 

Stop watch on paper

 

CORRECT ANSWER
Past tense
EDDIE SAYS
The verb 'past tense' is used to describe an action that has already happened. It is used in a number of ways in the poem such as the mother's memories of her son as a child, the day he went to war and how she felt when he didn't return.
  • Question 4

Empty swing in playground

 

We have just established that the poem 'Poppies is written in Past tense. Now let's evaluate why the writer chose to do this. 

Read the following quotation and choose three comments which you think show the importance of the poem being in past tense.

 

"I listened, hoping to hear
your playground voice catching on the wind"

CORRECT ANSWER
The mother is able to reflect on her sons childhood and this creates a sense of loss
It helps to suggest to the reader that the son may now be dead
It helps to create the sense that the son has already left and the mother feels sadness that she cannot change the situation now
EDDIE SAYS
The narrator is reflecting on the past, so it makes sense that the poem is written in the past tense. It also helps to create the sad tone of the poem as the tense indicates that quite a lot of time has passed since the boy left - is he ever coming back? Some people say that this is the narrator's way of telling us that he has died - what do you think?
  • Question 5

Language techniques are used throughout the poem to create imagery. Let's evaluate the effect of these techniques on the reader.

The following quotation contains a simile. Select one explanation from the list below, which you think evaluates the effect of this simile on the reader.

 

"The world overflowing 
like a treasure chest"

 

 

Treasure chest overflowing with riches

 

CORRECT ANSWER
This use of this simile describes the way in which the boy see's the world as a place which is 'overflowing' with great experiences and new pleasures
EDDIE SAYS
Although this line is narrated by the mother, she is explaining how she believes her son sees the world. She uses the simile of a treasure chest because she believes that her son only sees the 'riches' in the world outside and he believes that there are many great experiences to be had. The simile also suggests that he has no idea of the bad things that can happen, perhaps because she had protected him so much which highlights his innocence.
  • Question 6

war memorial

 

Read the following quotation from 'Poppies' and fill in the two blanks from the explanation below:

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
A simile is used to describe how the woman feels that every part of her wishes that her son would come home, it is all she thinks about. The verb "leaned" describes an action that someone might make when they no longer have the strength to stand by themselves and need support. The mother is physically exhausted by her grief.
  • Question 7

Read the following quotation from 'Poppies':

 

"The dove pulled freely against the sky"

 

What does this quotation tell the reader about how the son feels?

 

Peace dove

 

 

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 explains the issue of freedom and how the mother realises that she must give this to her son, even though she doesn't want him to leave. The poet uses symbolism of the "dove pulling freely through the sky" to show that she understands her son must also have freedom. The 'dove' and the 'sky' are both a metaphor for the freedom that the young boy feels once he has left his home. They can also represent the idea that the mother has come to the realisation that she can't keep her son a child forever and she must allow him the freedom of a grown man.

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 8

On line 16 the narrator describes her son's hair as "blackthorns", which is a metaphor for the crown made from thorns that Jesus wore when he was crucified. What type of reference is this?

thorn
 

CORRECT ANSWER
An allusion
EDDIE SAYS
An allusion is something that calls to mind without actually mentioning it. For example, a woman might say to her husband, "Thanks, Romeo," after he's offered some type of romantic gesture! He isn't Romeo of course, but we all know what she means when she is saying it, as Romeo is a well-known character for making romantic gestures.
  • Question 9

Look again at the quotation from the last question:

 

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

 

Can you explain the effect of 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: Although the mother wants to treat her son like a child again and show him affection, she stops herself as she knows this is not how he wants to be seen. The metaphor "gelled blackthorns" is used to compare his hair to something short and spiky - like thorns. This creates the impression that he is not a soft child anymore and feels ready to go out into the harsh world. There is also an allusion to Jesus and the crown of thorns he wore, which suggests that the son will not survive the war.

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 quiz on the language devices used in 'Poppies' to check your learning!

 

Good luck!

CORRECT ANSWER
 SymbolismSimileSibilanceMetaphorVerbs
"Your shirt's upturned collar steeled the softening of my face"
"The gelled blackthorns of your hair"
"All my words flattened rolled turned"
"The world overflowing like a treasure chest"
"The dove pulled freely against the sky"
EDDIE SAYS
There is a huge contrast with some of the imagery of the poem, sometimes linking to violence “blackthorns of your hair” and the more peaceful homely images “released a songbird” and ”play at being Eskimos”. This contrast emphasises the conflicting emotions in the mother.
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