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Compare and Contrast how the central child characters in the poems, "We are seven" and Mid-term Break" deal with the experience of death in childhood.

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Introduction

English Coursework Compare and Contrast how the central child characters in the poems, "We are seven" and Mid-term Break" deal with the experience of death in childhood. In this assignment I will analyse two poems, 'Mid-term break' and 'We are Seven' and study the ways in which each of the children in the poems deal with the death of a family member. In Seamus Heaney's poem, 'Mid-term break', he shares his thoughts about the death of his little brother and his feelings on the wake and the funeral. In William Wordsworth's poem, 'We are Seven' we learn how a little girl reacts to the death of her brother and sister and her attitude to her experience of death. The first poem I will analyse is 'We are Seven' written by William Wordsworth. William Wordsworth is a famous pre-nineteenth century English poet. He was one of the most accomplished and influential of England's romantic poets, whose theories and style created a new tradition in poetry. Wordsworth was born on April 7, 1770, in Cockermouth, Cumbria, and educated at St John's College, Cambridge University. He developed a keen love of nature as a youth, and frequently visited places noted for their scenic beauty. Poetry, he believed, originates from "emotion recollected in tranquillity". He began to write his own unique style of poetry, he abandoned the dull, wordy, intellectual style used by previous poets and adapted his own simplified poetry which was suitable for everyone, poems about the glory of the world, the beauty of nature and the mysteries of life. By doing this however, critics attacked his work and style. Wordsworth, however, was not discouraged, continuing to write poetry that spun his imagination. ...read more.

Middle

Regarding her sister's death, she is very unselfish, instead of asking God why she took her sister away, the little girl looks on Jane's death in a different light, in that, "In bed she moaning lay, till God released her of her pain." The simple way she looks on the death can be seen in line 52, instead of feeling that Jane was dead and buried she realised it was the best. However she only recognised that, "Jane had gone away," It almost seems as though Jane has just left for a while and will be returning as the tone is so light. In stanza fourteen, "the ground was white with snow," another clear example of Wordsworth recalling nature's amazing beauty, the snow might almost represent the purity and peace of a child, even in a sad part of the poem where we read about John, her brother's death. I don't think the girl is very upset that her siblings have died because she was preoccupied by the games in snowfall "I could run and slide," but this doesn't mean that she is glad they are dead, I just feel that she doesn't see them as being gone and never returning, but almost as if death is another adventure, another game for her and her six siblings. Finally in Stanza sixteen and seventeen, Wordsworth continues to ask the girl questions although it is a waste of time as he puts it, "T'was throwing words away," he cannot comprehend how all seven children can still be part of a group. But, as throughout the whole poem, the little girl is still brave and adamant that "we are seven" and this phrase is emphasised in the last line of the final two stanzas. ...read more.

Conclusion

Her death was somewhat expected and almost provided a sense of relief as her suffering ended. However, Heaney's brother's death was totally unexpected. He was knocked down by a car and probably had a sudden death as "the bumper knocked him clear." Of course Heaney's poem and Wordworth's are written from the perspective of two different children, in different times, under different circumstances, but the age gap between both children dealing with a death does affect the poems, In "We are seven" the girl is only eight years old and may not understand the full extent of her sibling's deaths. Seamus Heaney was slightly older when his brother of four died and he would have had a different reaction. With age, comes experience and maturity, something which Heaney seems to show during the poem, he is much more absorbed into what has happened and takes a lot more hurt. But both poems are very different even though they both deal with the tragedy of losing a young child. The little girl in "We are Seven" sees her siblings death completely different in contrast to Heaney's brother's death. The little girl accepts her siblings death and celebrates their life, she sees heaven as a place, almost as if her brother and sister are alive and happy. However, Heaney looks on his brother's death as the end. His approach is much more solemn and portrays a definite sense of loss. I think for that reason I preferred "We Are Seven" as it has much greater brightness to it. It is happy and reveals a refreshing way to celebrate someone's life. Wordsworth's talent is also quite unique and adventurous which was a step up from the duller poetry I have read in the past. It seems much more heartfelt and soulful. ...read more.

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