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Comparing Mid Term Break by Seamus Heaney and The Lesson by Edward Lucie-Smith

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Comparing "Mid Term Break" by Seamus Heaney and "The Lesson" by Edward Lucie-Smith The poems Mid-Term Break by Seamus Heaney and The Lesson by Edward Lucie-Smith are autobiographical poems showing deaths of relatives through the perspective of young boys. In Mid-Term Break it is the younger brother who dies; in The Lesson it is the boy's father. Each of the boys were away at boarding school when they were told of the deaths, and the poems describe the emotions they felt at the time and how they try to cope with the trauma of their losses. The boy in Mid-Term Break demonstrates maturity, yet still does not fully comprehend the situation. He does not understand why his father is crying as 'he had always taken funerals in his stride'. This strengthens the gloom of the poem as it indicates the extent of his fathers despair. He feels embarrassed when he receives attention from the 'old men' that come up to shake his hand and say they are 'sorry for my trouble', showing how he does not comprehend the situation. On the other hand, in The Lesson the boy relishes in the attention he receives, 'All the other eyes were turned towards me'. ...read more.


The poem Mid-Term Break starts in the college sick bay, where he has recently been told about his brother's death. However, the reader does not know at this time that it is his younger brother who has passed away. He relates the bell at the end of classes to the knelling of funeral bells, 'Counting bells knelling classes to a close'. This reveals the magnitude of the boy's distress, as he cannot get the visualisation of his brother's funeral from his head. The first line of the poem says 'I sat all morning', and the final line of the stanza says that 'at two o'clock our neighbours drove me home'. This shows that the boy must have been in the college sick bay for hours quietly contemplating his younger brother's death. In The Lesson, Edward Lucie-Smith is first told of his father's death in the headmasters study. The first line of the poem is very blunt, '"Your father's gone", my bald headmaster said'. This phrase comes across as sudden, indicating how his father was taken from him suddenly, and that the headmaster doesn't know how to sympathise with him. The word 'bald' is used, to imply the boy is intimidated by his headmaster. ...read more.


This could mean about how he learns of his father's death, or it could be of how he realises the advantages it could bring him. Both poems are structured clear and formally, making use of the iambic pentameter, which serve as sound structures for these particular poems. The stanzas are structured evenly. In Mid-Term Break, there are occasional rhymes, but the last two lines, in different stanzas, form a rhyming couplet. This emphasises the shortness of the child's life. The stanzas are structured in triplets of lines. On the other hand, The Lesson uses hardly any rhyme and is structured more in blank verse, whereas Mid-Term Break has a fluid and smooth flow. Both these poems do not use any special vocabulary - most of the words are used in commonly spoken English. Seamus Heaney's and Edward Lucie-Smith's poems are both about the death of a relative, and both are structured in iambic metre. However, aside from these two similarities, the poems vary greatly. In Mid-Term Break, Seamus Heaney tries to convey his despair over the loss of his brother while he was away at boarding school. Edward Lucie-Smith talks about the pride he felt from the attention he received when news of his father's death was disclosed to the rest of the school in the assembly-hall. ...read more.

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