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Sonnet To My Mother By George Bake

1488 words - 6 pages

Sonnet To My Mother by George Baker

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.

George Barker

A critical appreciation of 'to my mother' by George Baker

This sonnet by George Baker is, as the title suggests, a tribute to
his mother, evidently, at the time of the aerial bombardment of
Britain by the Luftwaffe in the Blitz during the Second World War. The
poet was then, apparently, living in a far distant part of the world,
as he refers to his mother being 'most far'. This was probably some
time between 1942 and 1943 when Baker was living in the U.S.A and
Canada.

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 to morning', in other words, that she will be lifted out of
her present state of grief over a bereavement to the light, hope and
life associated with 'morning' or a new day.

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.

The sonnet form with the necessity for compression that it imposes is
particularly suitable for this brief but deeply-felt tribute. In the
fourteen lines, Baker provides a vivid and appealing cameo of his
mother, not only her large size, but also of her habits, sense of
humour, lively, enquiring mind, compassion, loud, exuberant love of
life, courage and faith. In the octave of the sonnet, he accumulates
vivid impressions of all these characteristics except for the most
important ones, her courage and faith, which he reserves for the
sestet which provides the sonnet...

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