My Letter

poem by Lorraine Marwood , illlustrated by Peter Sheehan

Learning Intention:

I am learning to analyse emotive language used in poetry and how it relates to the writer’s perspective so that I can develop a broader understanding of the way our experiences inform our writing.

Success Criteria:

  • I can identify the perspectives of different poems and how they help readers emotionally connect with the text
  • I can compose a poem based on my own perspective.


Essential knowledge:

To assist students with understanding perspective, watch The School Magazine video for the English Textual Concept of Perspective.


Note: As this is a sensitive and potentially traumatic subject for some students, adjust discussions and activities to best suit the experiences and background of your students.


Read the poem aloud in full, or if you have a digital subscription you may wish to play the audio version. Ask students to assess the language used in the poem to determine the perspective it is written from and what they can infer about them. Answers many include:

  • They are the child of a soldier
  • They are far away from where their father is fighting in a war
  • They are in a safe country and aware that many others are not so lucky
  • They are sad and scared that their father is away at war
  • They are trying to remain brave and hopeful despite their fears
  • They just want their father to come home.


Break class into small groups and have them discuss what kind of emotions this poem evokes for them and why. Ask them to be specific about what aspects of the poem they found most impactful (e.g. ‘I don’t know when, but my words try to be brave and well-formed’ suggest that the child is struggling with the uncertainty but is trying not to succumb to their worst fears). Explain that the depth of emotion and understanding will be different for everyone and can depend on personal experience. Bring the class back together and ask each group to share the thoughts they discussed.


Play the UNICEF video Poems for Peace, then read the English version aloud:


Though am no longer a baby

And know how to differ at once

How the storms songs strongly and sadly

Or how guns fire out in a furious dance

Somewhere over the rainbow

There stands a lonely white hut

Inside is a boy, asking his daddy

Why did the war have to start?

The stars shine calm with a faraway sparkle

And darkness falls over the sleeping land

The night knocks gently with its knuckles

At the window that became my only friend

The stations, the roads, destinations.

Teary farewells, short letters to read

The trains dance with bullets, the words sound less precious

The hugs and kisses – as far as ever they could be

And the darkened sky has witnessed

Our homeland’s silent night

Like a miniature candle being put out

Wind and rain unrelenting crying

For human sins that will not be confessed, even at death

You think my dream is simple or just foolish

To live the world where there’s no place for pain

I dream of peace, warm hands and bluish

Clear early sky with song for birds to pray

Today we value simple things

Mere silence, a deep night’s sleep with happy dreams

Visiting friends, no control call

And no more deadly blasts at all

There was no blood, there were no deaths

No groups of soldiers, bullets or flower wreaths

With grass and fields at their fullest

Let’s wish everyone this

With all your mind and deeds and striving soul

Let the morning be so calm and kind

The sky clear and blue for all

The peace isn’t built by singles

But every until truly means

Let dove of peace fly to the sky

And blow away the clouds

Let humankind come by

together with no doubts!


Ask students to identify similarities and differences between the perspective this poem is written from and the perspective of My Letter. Answers may include:

Similarities Differences
Both are written from a child's perspective In the Poems for Peace, the war is taking place in their home country
Both want the war to end They do not feel safe in their homes
Both do not understand the fighting Their everyday lives involve death and destruction
Many children whose perspective is represented in the second poem would also be children of soldiers They have a deeper understanding of the importance of peace

Discuss the differences between the children’s experiences in the two poems and how their point of view affects the audience and connects with their emotions.


Creating text:

Students should then consider their own understanding and experience of war. Perhaps they have a loved one in the military, they may have family in a war-torn country, or their understanding of war may be from books or movies.

Students should use their own perspective or the perspective of someone they have learnt about to write their own poem about war. They should consider how to best convey the impact of war to the audience and how they can do this through emotive language. Students should be free to use any structure and rhyme scheme of their choosing for their poem.


Assessment for/as learning:

Conduct a gallery walk of all of the completed poems:

Ask students to identify peers work that shows strong evidence of achieving the learning intention, with particular focus on inclusion of emotive language in their poetry.

Ask students to share which poems they thought successfully included emotive language into their poem.

Allow children to go and conduct a rewrite of their own poem if they would like to incorporate additional emotional language into their poem from hearing the other examples.

(If students prefer, this can be done as a silent activity, where students just self-reflect rather than sharing with the wider group)