To My Mother George Barker

“To my mother” a poem written by George Barker is about a boy encouraging his mother to come out of her sorrows. The persona of this poem is encouraging his mother to fight her sorrows and overcome them because he has a lot of “faith” in her and also “loves” her. The message George Barker conveys through this poem is that we should not let our loved one in pain or sorrow but help them conquer over the sadness by showing affection and “love”, and having “faith” in them.

The poet successfully conveys his message through the use of a variety of poetic techniques such as; form, diction and imagery.

The poem “To My Mother” is written in a specific from, which helps convey the message and the feelings of the mother across to the readers. This poem is a sonnet; it consists of fourteen lines which are pleasingly divided into an octave and a sestet, more like a Petrarchan or Italian sonnet.

The octave describes to us the “seismic laughter” and how the mother was before all the sorrow taking control of her. It tells us that she was a comical yet caring; she was more of a role model to the other but she was following a “brass band” which could be referring to her beliefs.

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The sestet also talks about the mother but it is after all the sorrow fills her heart and mind, she “leans on the mahogany table” people lean on object when they are tired upset.

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In this case the mother is both upset and tired of being upset. The last two lines in the sestet describe how the behaviour of the mother has affected the son, the only strength, which the son can provide for his mother to break the wall of sadness is “love” and “faith”. The octave has a rhyme scheme of abcd abcd, the sestet has a rhyme scheme of efg efg, and each line follows an iambic metre.

The iambic metre gives us a rhythm to read the poem, which also relates to the message and the mothers feelings. Normally when we feel sad, everything we do tends to be slow and at a steady pace, the iambic metre provides that steadiness in the reading. The metre also relates to the message, helping someone overcome their sorrows, the metre states the slow and sorrowful mind of the mother and the rhyme at the end of each line suggests the “love” and “faith” the son has toward the mother.

By using the form of a Petrarchan or Italian sonnet the poet effectively state the message. Through the uses of effective diction and simile, George Barker communicates the emotions of the mother. In the octave word choices like, “most dear” suggests that this poem might indeed be a letter to some one. When I think of words like “most loved and most far”, it seems to be a letter written to someone, who has died, and the boy is informing his mother status after their death. “Huge” suggests not only the mothers appearance but also the kindness; having a huge heart.

Seismic” implies her being jovial and light hearted; on the other hand in the sestet, where the tone changes, the thoughtful choice of words emphasise the sadness of the mother. “She will not glance up at the bomber or condescend/ To drop her gin and scuttle to the cellar,” this shows us that the boy has tried every means to get the mother out of her sorrows but what ever happens she would not recover or respond. People “Lean” when they are tired, stressed or miserable, this directly relates to the mothers state of mind.

I think that the detailed description of the table; being mahogany is significant to how the mother feels as well. The word sounds like melancholy; meaning sad and depressed, which is what the mother is undergoing. The word “cellar” reminds me of prisons and bars; the mother is behind and trapped into the prison of “mourning”. “Mourning into morning” these words are homophones; sounding the same concludes the poem, and also states the message, by expressing that the mother sorrows will end when there is a new beginning.

One very effective simile, is describing his mother “like a mountain”, this description not only describes the physical appearance but also the emotional capacity. A mountain is large and is a home to many living things, and the author to choose a mountain to describes is telling us that she is not only physically big but also is full of sorrow and sadness that, and the son needing the support of the mother, resembles the life in the mountains .

George Barker uses metre, diction, rhyme, and simile; to illustrate the hidden message of his poem to his readers. The careful choice of word helps the readers successfully understand the emotions of the mother. The form of the poem helps the readers, feel the mother’s sorrowfulness and the message from the poet; that we should help our loved one overcome pain and sorrow by loving them and having faith in them.

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To My Mother George Barker. (2019, Dec 05). Retrieved from

To My Mother George Barker
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