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Death and Grief in Midterm

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Introduction

'Out Out' was written by Robert Frost who was an American poet born in 1874. He moved to New England, a farming region, where most of his poems were inspired. 'Mid Term Break' was written by Seamus Heaney, who was born on a farm in County Londonderry in Northern Ireland. It is evident that both poets' backgrounds have had much influence in their poetry writing which can be seen from these two poems. Although, Robert Frost attended Harvard University he had to leave early to support his family by moving to a farm in New Hampshire. He also had six children but four of them died before he did. In 'Out Out', he writes about the harsh reality of a young boy from a poor working class background having to work on a farm in order to help his family which led to his horrific and unmourned death. Apparently this was based on a true event. Seamus Heaney was one of nine children. When he was twelve he won a scholarship to St Columb's College in Londonderry. When he was studying there his four year old brother, Christopher, was killed in a road accident. Mid Term Break is based on this event. In contrast the death of Seamus Heaney's brother is described as a very emotional event mourned by family and friends. ...read more.

Middle

Seamus Heaney uses alliteration at the start of his poem, "Counting bells knelling classes to a close". The sounds used here make you think of the "tick tock" of a clock. It also a metaphor as knelling bells are also bringing his brother's life to a close. Both of the poems have shocking endings. In Mid Term break we realise that the dead child was only 4 years old. "A four foot box, a foot for every year." Nearly every word in the last line is short. It gives a sense of shortness and comes to an abrupt ending just like the brother's life. The ending in "Out Out" is equally appalling as it ends with the family showing little or no emotion to the death of their son. It also had an abrupt ending. Another similarity between the poems is that time is referred to in both of them. In Out Out, reference is made to the sunset far in Vermont. This suggests that light is becoming dimmer and the dim light could also have led to the accident occurring and the eerie atmosphere. In Mid Term break the poet refers to 10 O'clock twice which is a bright part of the day. Both poems use language with attitude. In Mid-Term Break Seamus Heaney uses metaphors "wearing a poppy bruise" this helps create an image because even though we know the dead child is not literally ...read more.

Conclusion

In contrast, Mid Term Break describes the scene of the father crying uncontrollably. This would not be an expected reaction for men in Ireland to cry as they would normally bottle their emotions up. The fact that Jim Evans said it was "a hard blow" shows that it was someone close to the family. Friends and family gather at the house to offer their condolences. The body was then brought home and viewed in a coffin. Another difference is how the two boys are treated by their families. The boy in Out Out is treated as an adult who is doing a man's job. He is treated no different than anyone else. In Mid Term Break, the boy is being educated. He is however treated like a man when old men stand up to shake his hand as his father is in a bad state, people told strangers that he was the eldest. However, he is then reduced to a small child again when his mother holds on to his hand as she doesn't want to let him out of her sight. There is also a difference in the acceptance of the two deaths. In Out Out there wasn't any grieving amongst the family members but in Mid Term Break there is little acceptance particularly from the boy's mother. The poem says she "coughed out angry tearless sighs." She may be blaming herself as should have been with her child or not let him out of her sight. ...read more.

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