Poppies: Context


Jane Weir is an Anglo-Italian poet, born in 1963 and raised in Manchester. She is a multi-award winner for her poetry, with “Poppies” being the most famous of her works. The poem was created to fulfil a commission from Carol Ann Duffy who was after a collective of poems centred around the theme of war.

The symbolism of poppies is specifically associated with Remembrance Day, the day of ceasefire which concluded the First World War. Poppies are of significance due to the fact that they grew on many of the battlefields throughout France and Belgium, whilst their red colour grew as a reminder of the blood spilled during the war.

The poem doesn’t specifically focus on war itself, but rather the effects of war, specifically on the speaker of the poem who is a mother reminiscing about significant moments in her life with her son, who has now gone to war.

Although it mentions no scenes from the battlefield, there are extremely prevalent themes of emotion, namely pride and grief.

There are multiple interpretations of what the grief regards- some believe the poem regards the death of the son within the poem, whilst other interpretations outline the idea of grief being brought on by the sheer idea of the son simply going away to war, and the speaker expecting the worst.