Analysis on Sonnet to My Mother

Written by Siti Lailatul Hajar (Bintang Sahara) on Jumat, 19 April 2013 at 16.56

Analysis on Sonnet
Sonnet to My Mother
By: George Barker
Most near, most dear, most loved, and most far,
Under the huge window where I often found her
Sitting as huge as Asia, seismic with laughter,
Gin and chicken helpless in her Irish hand,                                                                       
Irresistible as Rabelais but most tender for                      
The lame dogs and hurt birds that surround her,—
She is a procession no one can follow after
But be like a little dog following a brass band.

She will not glance up at the bomber or condescend            
To drop her gin and scuttle to a cellar,
But lean on the mahogany table like a mountain
Whom only faith can move, and so I send
O all her faith and all my love to tell her
That she will move from mourning into morning.

A Mother in Goerge Barker’s Sonnet
By: Siti Lailatul Hajar
Sonnet has 14 lines long and has a firmly fixed form. The sonnet works best for expressing strong emotion or intense feeling, firm purpose, or great seriousness. This form works best if you want to focus attention on a single thing—a particular idea, situation, emotion, problem, observation, etc. — the sonnet gets to its point quickly and efficiently, with beauty and charm of form or expression. Sonnet to my mother is Italian sonnets. It has two distinct sections. The first eight lines, called the octave, generally follow the rhyme scheme: abba abba. The second is formed by the last six lines, the sestet, usually has more flexibility in rhyme schemes, though the most common ones are: cdcdcd; cddcdc; cdecde; cdeced; or cdcedc. Very rarely does the Italian sonnet end in a couplet (as do English sonnets): ee. In this sonnet, the writer attempts to express his idea about his mother. In the first stanza, he introduces the mother and how the relationship between the character and the mother, while in the second stanza, the writer introduces conflict. The conflict is about the war using bomb and the strength of mother to face the war that makes the mother died. To make it easy, I am going to analyze this sonnet in the two section, octave and sestet.
First of all, I am going to analyze on the octave line by line. This sonnet is to mother. It appears from the title of the sonnet itself, “sonnet to my mother”.  Thus, the object of this sonnet belongs to woman. You may see in the second, fourth, and sixth line using pronoun “her”. It refers to Mother. Besides, in the first line of the sestet, it is found pronoun “she” and “her” again. Jumping into first line, the writer gives information without mentioning the subject. The sonnet is directly opened by sentence Most near, most dear, most loved, and most far. It means that the character –I- feels that the mother is the closest, the most loveable, and the furthest person to him. This line shows the character’s  love and admiration for his mother, however the character feels far from the mother. No reason states there. It maybe because of the distance or the death of the mother. The character –I- usually see her beneath the big window. In my interpretation, huge window is not the real window. I think the character see the mother as huge window. According to Collins: 2007, the meaning of window is a space in the wall of a building or in the side of a vehicle, which has glass in it so that light can come in and you can see out. By this meaning reveals that the character may see the world from the mother, moreover see in huge window. The light in life and knowledge to look the world are open wider from the mother.
Afterwards, the character found the mother sits as huge as Asia. Asia is a big continent. It has all things people need. “Sitting as huge as Asia” may refer to the calmness, wisdom and the completeness of the mother in Barker’s sonnet.  Suddenly, the mother is laughing because of fun or happiness. In the next line, Barker states ‘Gin and chicken helpless in her Irish hand’. I interpret this line that the mother believed that no lasting happiness, it is just temporary happiness. As an Ireland person, the mother does not have much hope in getting happiness. I analyze gin and chicken as the happiness.  She is weak to control or protect herself.  Then, Barker compares her desire is like Rabelais, Renaissance humanist, but she is very gentle and caring for the crippled dogs and injured birds that around her. The mother is very care to other people, especially to weak people. Till, nobody can do as she does, but they are like a little dog which is moving along behind a brass band, which always follow whatever the mother does.
In the next analyzing is in the sestet. This three first line from the sestet reveals the bravery of the mother. The mother will never look slightly to the bomber or war, but she will put the happiness to face the war. She is not going to run away from the war or go to cellar to hide herself, keep safety for herself only. Whatever and however, war must be faced. The choices are two, death because of struggle and fight or give up before fighting. “But lean on the mahogany table like a mountain” shows the obstinancy and strength of the mother to face the bomb. Mahogany is symbol of strength and endurance. Mahogany is known to be a rare and very expensive species of wood that has been used to construct fine furniture for hundreds of years. Mahogany is said to have strong protective qualities and is known for its ability to withstand even lightening strikes. Besides, mountain means the conviction to do something. Nothing can change her belief. Unfortunately, in the next line, I see that the mother is died because of the war. That is appeared in the sentence “I send O all her faith and all my love to tell her”. although the mother died in the war –bad condition-, the character believe that the mother is going to be happy in her new nature. She will not face war anymore in the grave.
In short, this sonnet tells about mother, tells about the great love of the character to the mother and tells about the bravery and finally the death of the mother in the war.

Aarella,Seema., retrieved on April, 4 2012 at 14.15
Collins Cobuild Dictionary. 2006. CD-ROM
Farris, Style, Sound, and Structure of Poetry (The Technical Stuff). English 12/ AP Literature, retrieved on April, 5 2012 at 14.15, retrieved on April, 5 2012 at 12.06 retrieved on April, 4 2012 at 14.18
McBride, Kelli. Characteristic of the sonnet.  --------------------

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