A Critical Appreciation of "Mid-term Break" by Seamus Heaney
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A Critical Appreciation of "Mid-term Break" by Seamus Heaney In order to write a critical appreciation of this shocking poem by Seamus Heaney, I will make use of language choices, use of structure and subject matter. This poem is about a boy, that tells his experience when he as picked up from school because of the death of his baby brother. This poem is possibly an autobiographical poem, as it is written in the persona "I". It has seven stanzas each of which has three lines, and the last line of the poem is apart from the others. It has no rhyming scheme. When reading the first stanza of this poem, it gives a sad feeling, because of it being emotionless; it is slow and monotonous. By giving many references of time, it seems as if the boy is waiting for something eagerly, and because he is "counting bells" he seems to be bored, and is trying to distract himself.
In the fourth stanza, the narrator quotes exactly what the old men are saying, because he probably doesn't think they really mean what they are saying. This makes us feel that the narrator has despise over them, like in the next line when he says "strangers", because he probably feels that shouldn't be there if they aren't close to the family. When they offer their condolences, the old men use a euphemism because it would be too harsh. The word death is usually very strong, and in this situation, it will really be offensive. In the next stanza, the narrator is describing all that is happening, still without much emotions and describing everything in clinical words. Like in the rest of the poem, he seems to be more worried by what is happening, rather than crying himself; and this is disturbing for the reader. In the first line, the narrator's mother "[coughs] out angry tearless sighs" and this makes the reader think that she is really shocked, tearing apart and about to collapse.
This gives a shocking effect on the reader, as it makes you realise how small he is. As the baby as is "knocked clear", this shocks the reader a lot, because it gives the impression that he as hit really hard, fast and violently. The last line of this stanza is apart from the others. This makes it have a stronger effect on the reader. This line repeats what is said before, because the narrator is really shocked, as is the reader when reading this, because you realise how small the baby is. By the alliteration of the letter "f", and short syllables, it gives a even stronger effect, as it makes you feel the anger of the narrator. In conclusion, we can see that the title of the poem, "Mid-Term Break" doesn't relate at all with the poem; because the title makes us think of vacations and fun when it is actually about death. This is called tragic irony. The overall effect this poem had on me, as really strong. It made me feel sad, disturbed and shocked, but despite this I believe it is wonderfully written.
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