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A GCSE Guide to AQA Unit 2: Poetry Across Time | Poppies

Shane Richardson | Sunday January 13, 2013

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Guide Navigation

1. Introduction
2. Out of the Blue
3. Flag
4. Mametz Wood
5. The Yellow Palm
6. The Right Word
7. At the Border
8. Poppies
9. Exam Technique
10. Sample Exam Questions

AQA Anthology Poems

“Moon on the Tides: Conflict Cluster”

About the Author

Jane Weir is a Derbyshire-based poet, who was born in Manchester, and is of Anglo-Italian descent. She is a poet as well as literary critic and has produced a number of poetry anthologies.

Poppies was commissioned at the request of her friend Carol Ann Duffy.

Checking your Understanding

  1. Who is the speaker talking about, or to, in the first stanza?
  2. Many of the things described in stanza two are particularly tender – why do you think Weir includes them?
  3. Why do you think the speaker describes herself as ‘brave’ in the third stanza.
  4. What is the significance of the dove in the final stanza?

Commenting on Language

  1. How does the poet use imagery connected with clothes and fabric, what effect does it achieve?
  2. What words does the poet use to suggest the son’s excitement at entering the adult world?
  3. How does the writer contrast the promise of youth with the sadness of death?
  4. Why do you think the poet uses an irregular rhyme scheme and stanza structure?

Extending your Understanding

What is Weir’s ‘big idea’?

Superficially, the poem is about a mother remembering – or possibly anticipating – the loss of a son, and the associated memories that therefore come from such a bereavement. However, we might argue that Weir’s poem is essentially about parenthood. The opening stanza of the poem is concerned with maternal fussing over the child, which runs into the second. This is indicative of the poem’s preoccupation with parenting because there is a sense here of the mother re-iterating her purpose. She arranges his clothes and pins the poppy to the lapel, as a symbol of her role in his life. Equally, when she lets her son out into the...


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