The poet’s feelings of great admiration for and love of his mother are evident throughout the poem. The opening line with its succession of superlatives, ‘most near’, ‘most dear’ and ‘most loved’, and straight way attests strongly to these feelings. His exuberant exclamation near the end of the poem, ‘and so I send O all my faith and all my love to her… ‘confirms the strength of these feelings. The warm, humorous, delightfully frank way Baker describes his ‘irresistible’ mother in the intervening lines also convinces us of his strong attachment to her.
These feelings are moreover, reinforced by the warm, playful, exuberant tone he employs throughout the poem. To my Mother by George Baker is, as the title suggests, a tribute to his mother. In the poem he describes his feelings and memories of about her. It is perhaps his method of overcoming his grief over her-possibly soon to be-passing. Because of this the tone of this poem is sombre and respectful. At first glance the poem “To my Mother”, by George Barker is about his mother’s strong and character and the type of woman she was.
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This leads me to believe the author had a deep respect for his mother and the way she lived her life, and that this was a contributing factor to writing the poem. In the first stanza Barker repeatedly uses the word most – “Most near , most dear, most loved, most far” which shows that he cannot describe how much she meant to him; in each of these she was the utmost pinnacle. The poem was evidently written some during the time of the aerial bombardment of Britain by the Luftwaffe during the Blitz in the Second World War. Barker was then, apparently, living in a far distant part of the world, as seen in the line ‘most far’.
This was probably sometime between 1942 and 1943 when Baker was living in the U. S. A and Canada. Another meaning is that she is “most near” in his heart but “most far” physically due to her passing away. He goes on to say: “Under the window where I most often found her, sitting as huge as Asia, seismic with laughter. ” This references his childhood memories of her, while also giving an idea of her physical appearance; Asia is a large country, and by saying she is as “huge as Asia” he gives the idea of her being a very large-possibly overweight-woman with an equally large, booming laugh that ffects those about her. “Gin and chicken helpless in her Irish hand” This continues the idea of her being a big woman. By describing the gin and chicken as “helpless” we are given the image of her enthusiastically devouring her food, and that she does not waste any of it. The line “Irresistible as Rabelais” refers to a French writer known for his sense of humour, which was often seen as crude or coarse. In this way she can be seen as having a coarse sense of humour or being crude in her general mannerisms, but that she is also pleasant to be around and to interact with despite or perhaps even because of this.
Barker then goes on to show a gentler side to his mother with the line: “But most tender for the lame dogs and hurt birds that surround her. ” This can be seen in to different ways; it can either mean that she literally has a soft spot for injured animals and enjoys taking care of them; or that it instead applies to people. A “bird” is a word sometimes used to describe a girl, and boys are sometimes attributed as dogs because of puppy love etc. In this way it shows that she has a tender, caring side towards these individuals, and may have provided either physical care if they were injured, or aid of a more mental kind in the form of advice.
After this he says “She is a procession no one can follow after, but be like a little dog following a brass band” By describing her as a procession, along with previous description, we conjure up the image of a large woman who is not afraid to speak her mind, and is noticed by those around her. Compared to her, those who follow after are like small dogs yapping dogs that are drowned out by the loud noise of a brass band-in this case, Barker’s mother. In this line Barker taps in to uniqueness of his mother and realizes there is no other like her and any attempt to replace her would be weak. She will not glance up at the bomber, or condescend to drop her gin and scuttle to a cellar” This line means she doesn’t scare easily because most people would even think twice about running for cover during a bombing. This line exemplifies his mother faults and qualities and sees her as human unlike the way in which we sometimes view our own mothers as superwomen who can’t error. In not condescending to drop her gin, she refuses to act like the rest of the crowd, a sign of her free will and refusing to scuttle away ike a rat reinforces this. Whether this statement is literal or figurative it does convey the strength of her character during uncertain times. If it is taken literally, it conveys stubbornness to her character, as described further by the line: “But lean on the mahogany table like a mountain only faith can move” This not only tells us that his mother was a religious woman, but that, as mentioned above, she is extremely stubborn and free willed, and can only be forced into action by her faith.
By describing her as a mountain leaning on a mahogany table, Barker shows her as being extremely rooted and steadfast. Mountains are immovable, and mahogany is a hard wood, the two forming to show just how intent she is on not moving. “And so I send O all my faith, and all my love to tell her, that she will move from mourning into morning. This line leaves me feeling a sense of revere toward his mother as if she is someone whom others look to in her for a sense of belonging. This last line is simply the author’s way of saying goodbye to his mother.
By the end of the poem Barker has accepted his mother’s virtues along with her frailties. The poet’s intension is not only to pay tribute to his mother but, more specifically, as the poem is addressed “to” her, to send her his love and expression of his firm belief that she will “move from mourning into morning”; this is symbolic of her memory ceasing to be something that causes Barker pain, and instead that her memory will bring him pleasant reveries of the time he spent with her.