War poem

This hook presents a poem that was published in the Free Lance, a Wellington newspaper, in August 1915. The message of “The Mother” is clear: it is better to have a son killed in action than a son who refused to go to war. Its author is anonymous, which raises questions over the origins of the poem and the purpose of its inclusion in a newspaper.

Free Lance, volume 15, issue 788, 6 August 1915, page 17.

Free Lance, volume 15, issue 788, 6 August 1915, page 17. Sourced from Papers Past: bit.ly/pptmp

Context

This poem was published in the Free Lance, a Wellington newspaper, in August 1915. The Free Lance was a popular weekly paper that represented conservative and mainstream views. It often featured stories about royalty, high society, and sport.

The message of “The Mother” is clear: it is better to have a son killed in action than a son who refused to go to war. Its author is anonymous, which raises questions over who wrote the poem, why it was written, and the purpose of its inclusion in a newspaper.

Possible discussion questions

  • What is the purpose of this poem?
  • What feelings does the poem evoke in you? Why?
  • Do you think someone whose son had died at war wrote this? Why or why not?
  • What impact do you think this poem had on its readers? What different perspectives may its readers have had at the time?
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