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Compare and contrast the poems 'Death of a Son', 'Mid-Term Break' and 'Remember' - What approaches do the writers take on the subject and what techniques do they use to convey their message?

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Introduction

Compare and contrast the poems 'Death of a Son', 'Mid-Term Break' and 'Remember'. What approaches do the writers take on the subject and what techniques do they use to convey their message? Think about * Structure * Narrator and their characters * Poetic techniques * Tone and mood * Setting in time Death of a Son by Jon Silkin This poem is a noting down, by Silkin, of his son's death, which comes from Silkin's own personal experience. Understandably, because of this, it is an extremely sad and distressing poem. It tells the reader of Silkin's struggle and his son's struggle, in what may have easily been the most difficult period of both their lives. Certainly for the son - although as a note at the start of the poem is tells the reader that the son was only one year old. Following the theme of sadness in this poem comes the awareness that fathers are not supposed to suffer the loss of a son, and for that reason there isn't a word to describe it - not as there is for widows or orphans. Silkin feels the injustice of this strongly. The first stanza starts off by saying that 'something' was no longer present; that something was missing. However it is unclear whether this 'something' was a burden. Whatever the something was to him, he does miss its presence. This can imply that Silkin, although his child was mentally ill, was a devoted father; there is also the possibility that Silkin did not find the memory of his child fond, but just close and familiar. The child is 'Something like a person: something very like one' However by saying that Silkin is effectively pointing out that this wasn't a person. The last short line, ebbing away, is so un-poetic - Silkin not being able to describe his retarded child 'And there was no nobility in it Or anything like that.' ...read more.

Middle

Then 'the bumper knocked him clear' comes through sardonic, Heaney appearing bitter about it, and from that we find out the how, and that curiosity is satisfied shamefully. 'No ... scars' - no scars because the car that killed him knocked him clear. It becomes clear that Heaney is not as unattached as he so previously gave the impression of. He resents the waste of life, and the unfairness. 'A four foot box, a foot for every year' This finishes his poem. In that line Heaney conveys the wrongness of it. Emphasising his brother's age, only four. Here the typical Heaney shock comes into play, as we don't expect the death of someone so young, but it is subdued. A small coffin for a small age. It shouldn't happen, and when it does it is particularly sad because those children have not yet led a proper life. All through this poem Heaney tries to remain unemotionally attached, almost avoiding the grief associated with the death of a close member of kin - even his title echoes that. On a basic level the title's nothing to do with the death of his brother and yet everything - when the layers are peeled back, it also manages to symbolise the death. 'I sat all morning in the college sick bay Counting bells knelling classes to a close' Although still telling us as much as possible - from what he looked like in his death, the strangers trying to relate to him, the times he left school, the time the ambulance appeared, the corpse having been 'stanched and bandaged' - anything to keep his mind from the reality of his brothers death and to be able to separate his emotions from the story which he wishes to give to the reader. The namelessness of the brother supports this inhuman approach, for to give the child a name would make it seem more real. ...read more.

Conclusion

Rossetti's is mainly motivated by her love and so in those senses they are different - Heaney's motivation for his poem coming from his feelings of grievance and unfairness, similar to that of Silkin's. Similarities can be found between Silkin's and Rossetti's in that both cannot mention death by name - using euphemisms and metaphors as a way around this pain. The most obvious difference Rossetti has with Silkin and Heaney is that she is female and the others are both male. It is perhaps her female stature that makes her able to think of her lover, including him in her poem in a most noble way, giving his feelings thought, whereas in Silkin's and Heaney's they are alone and do not share their grieve, almost selfishly; never giving anyone else thought. At the end of Rossetti's she is able to give her "blessing", in contrast to the other two where it could be said they "wallow in their misery". Heaney's and Silkin's poems seem to be more "stuck in the past" than Rossetti's. Heaney's especially as he wrote 'Mid-Term Break' as an adult from when he was a child, and Silkin's as his was written some time after the death, until the pain had lost its edge. She is looking ahead, far ahead; her thoughts stuck in the future when she was in love. Her poem is written when she was healthy, the only prompt to write her poem is the fact that she was in love, making her thoughts and this poem almost a denial of love. The first two poets' messages are clear - a waste of life. The unfairness, it shouldn't happen; it's debatably the saddest type of death. The potential and promise of life taken swiftly away, before it's appreciated. Both poets take the death hard, and begrudge the squander of life involved in the sad deaths in their lives. They try to get across how life is precious. Rossetti's is above all else be happy, rather then sad; her wish above her own uncertainties and anxieties. Her poem is an example of ultimate unselfishness. ...read more.

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