Year 11

Analysing 'Poppies'

I can explore how Weir uses language and structure to explore grief.

Year 11

Analysing 'Poppies'

I can explore how Weir uses language and structure to explore grief.

Lesson details

Key learning points

  1. The title could be suggestive of remembrance, the many grieving mothers of war or the outward display of deeper grief.
  2. Bird imagery may reflect the mother letting go of her son or the way in which she represses her grief.
  3. Two sestets either side of two longer stanzas may suggest the mother trying hard to contain her emotions for her son.
  4. The domestic and textile imagery may also show the mother’s containment of grief.
  5. Textile imagery also suggests the limitations of the mother’s ability to protect her son outside of the home.

Common misconception

Pupils may not notice the significance of the textile imagery.

The textile imagery was carefully chosen for the poem, Jane Weir would have been very conscious of putting this in as she was a textile designer.


  • Grief - intense sorrow usually associated with the death of something or someone

  • Repress - to keep something under control and not let it come to the surface

  • Selflessness - concern more with the desires and needs of others rather than one’s own

When on the feedback task in the second learning cycle, you may want to live mark a pupil's response on the visualiser.
Teacher tip

Content guidance

  • Contains subject matter which individuals may find upsetting.
  • Contains conflict or violence.


Adult supervision suggested.


This content is © Oak National Academy Limited (2024), licensed on Open Government Licence version 3.0 except where otherwise stated. See Oak's terms & conditions (Collection 2).


6 Questions

Who is 'Poppies' written from the perspective of?
a soldier
a soldier's sister
Correct answer: a soldiers' mother
In this quote from 'Poppies': "smoothed down your shirt’s upturned collar", how does the mother seem?
Correct answer: protective
Throughout the poem, Weir uses frequent...
floral imagery
winter imagery
Correct answer: textile imagery
Which quote from 'Poppies' suggests the mother may be at peace with her son's death?
"my stomach busy making tucks, darts, pleats"
Correct answer: "The dove pulled freely against the sky"
"I listened, hoping to hear your playground voice"
"steeled", "blockade", "reinforcements". All of these words fit the semantic field of...
Correct answer: war
Through the dramatic monologue form...
Correct answer: Weir compels the reader to acknowledge the mother's quiet trauma
Weir places significance on the soldier's pain
Weir shows the patriotism of mothers of boys at war

6 Questions

In 'Poppies', the mother "steel[ing] the softening of her face" could reflect...
Correct answer: how she represses her grief when saying goobye to her son
how she found it easy to say goodbye to her son
how she does not want to be alone
The act of "releasing a song bird from its cage" in 'Poppies' could represent...
Correct answer: the mother letting her son go
Correct answer: the mother finally unleashing her grief
the mother releasing her son's childhood pet
The two sestets either side of long stanzas could reflect…
how war seems to never end
the conflict between the mother and her son
Correct answer: how the mother tries to contain her grief
"The word “stitch” could further reflect how the mother tries to keep her grief neat and tidy". This response contains...
absolute langauge
Correct answer: tentative language
emotive language
What is one way to ensure a nuanced answer when writing essays about poems?
choose the first analysis that comes to your head
name the poet's literary devices
Correct answer: consider alternative interpretations of something in the poem
Why might Weir have chosen the title "Poppies"?
to encourage the reader to wear a poppy every year
Correct answer: to encourage the reader to reflect on the grief that lies within the symbol
to criticise the sheer loss of life in war
Correct answer: to emphasise the many mothers that experience the same grief as the speaker