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Appreciation of "Mid Term Break" by Semaus Heaney

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Introduction

Appreciation of "Mid Term Break" by Semaus Heaney The opening stanza is set in the boarding school, with a young boy, waiting in sick bay. The very first word in the poem is "I", and this immediately brings the reader into the poem we identify with the poet. "I sat all morning in the sick bay" we are aware that all is not well. This feeling of apprehension is emphasized with the second line of the opening stanza, "Counting bells knelling classes to a close". Heaney uses alliteration to emphasize the funereal sound of the tolling bells and the feeling of time dragging. The hard "c" sounds point to an ending, whereas the long, gentle "l" sounds suggest a drawn out passing of time. The stanza begins with the "morning" in line one, but it is "two o'clock" when the neighbors arrive in line three, showing that hours have passed while heaney was waiting. The boy doesn't just hear the class bells ringing, he counts them. This is an indication of time passing and gives us an image of a boy using the school bell to tell what time it is, to try to guess how long he has been waiting. ...read more.

Middle

We do not know, therefore, whether Jim's speech is an unfortunate pun or another hint at the tragedy to come, this also might show us some peoples inability to act "appropriately when it comes to dealing with grief. The third and fourth stanzas put the poet's unease at the atmosphere inside the house, in rapid and disjointed set of images. It is as we are flashing between each image as if in a film. He sees clearly the things around him, as if sleepwalking, notices them in a daze, but cannot make sense of anything. He notices that the baby, too young to no what is happening, is cooing happily and rocking in its pram. The happy sounds of the baby, a new life, is contradictary to the grief-stricken silence in the room. The boy feels uncomfortable with the atmosphere of stiff formality and the attention he receives: "I was embarrassed/By old men standing up to shake my hand". The fourth stanza begins with old men to expressing their condolences they tell the lad that they are "sorry for his trouble". ...read more.

Conclusion

The scene changes for the third and final time in the last two stanzas of the poem. The next morning the poet describes seeing his dead brother for the first time. Just as he waited alone in sick bay to be collected by the neighbors at the beginning of the poem, the poet is once again alone at the poem's end. Itis more personal and affecting and the feelings towards his brother seem to be more real and not done by shock. The first things that the poet notices upon entering the room where his brother is lying are snowdrops and candles. This image is significant, as it is here that the poet compares images of life and death. The snowdrops represent renewal, growth new life; whereas the candles are something you light for a dead person, and represent death. The final brief and understated line stands alone. It's the abrupt ending it gives the whole poem that compares to the abrupt ending of his brothers life. The line is also an expression of finality. The box is four feet long, a foot for every year of the dead child's life. The box will not grow, just as the child can no longer grow, both are still and dead. Michael Mitchll English Literature 08/05/2007 ...read more.

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