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Discuss how Heaney portrays images of family and country life.

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Discuss how Heaney portrays images of family and country life. In this essay I will endeavour to explore all various phrases, words, metaphors and diction that contribute towards the portrayal of images regarding family and country life. I shall analyse two of Heaney's poems to gather these images, the two poems being 'Mid - Term Break', taken from 'Death of a naturalist' (Heaney's first collection), and 'Blackberry Picking'. I chose these two poems as I felt that 'Mid - Term Break' portrays family life excellently, whereas 'Blackberry Picking' is just as effective in portraying country life. This essay will also give the reader insight into the mind of Heaney as a young child, as both of the poems are written in first person narrative, his views and thoughts gathered from his childhood, yet written by Heaney as an adult looking back at his youth. I shall first focus on 'Mid - Term Break'. The title immediately suggests that something is wrong or unusual, as it is irregular to have a break during mid -term. The title because of its obscurity brings about two possible emotions. The first, curiosity, releasing the inquisition of, what's wrong? This inquiry is often found being asked by a young child to his/her mother, perhaps driven by their own sense of curiosity frequently found in young children. The second emotion evoked by the title being happiness and relief at the thought of a break from school perhaps. ...read more.


This contributes enormously to the poet's aim of evoking the reader's emotions. The line shows the stress, anger and sorrow of the mother, her cough acting like an illness she can't get rid of, except it is not an illness, but a death she cannot forget. The repetition of assonance this time in the short letter sound 'a' - 'At', 'ambulance', 'arrived' 'stanched' 'and' 'bandaged', emphasises the short, quick stopping of his brother's life. Heaney then refers to his brother's body as 'the corpse', this shows his detachment from the scenario, and again depicts how he doesn't understand the finality of death. He still sees a corpse, a corpse that could be anyone's, not as his brother's body. We are greeted with a clean and pure image in the sixth stanza. The selection of 'snowdrops', 'candles' and 'soothed' create the feeling that the tension has been lifted from Heaney. We learn that he has not seen his brother for six weeks from the line 'I saw him for the first time in six weeks'. This shows the long periods of time that Heaney had stayed away from home for. The word 'him' finally shows his realisation of his brother's death. In this final stanza we are now beginning to understand Heaney's sorrow. We know that he now is accepting the body as his brother's and grieving. He goes on to say that his brother 'lay in the four foot box as in his cot'. ...read more.


However, both of the poems have different aims towards the reader. I feel that 'Mid - Term Break' was written to evoke deep emotions from the reader, whereas I feel that 'Blackberry Picking' was written to create wonderful colourful images of the country. Although I say these two things, I do not wish to say that they do not contain any of each other's qualities at all. For example, although 'Mid - Term Break' evokes emotion, imagery is used in the words 'snowdrops' and 'poppy bruise'. Similarly in 'Blackberry Picking', imagery is it's prominent feature but emotions are evoked when Heaney says 'Each year I hoped they'd keep, knew they would not'. Finally, in conclusion to reading and analysing both poems I feel that Heaney has succeeded in portraying family and country life. I also feel that he has succeeded in evoking much thought from the reader in 'Mid - Term Break'. I feel this because of the range of emotions he depicts throughout this poem. Heaney again has succeeded in making the imagery in 'Blackberry Picking' very eminent, and protrusive. I do not feel that there is a striking similarity in between these two poems at all, although the main similarity in my view is the naivety and confusion felt by Heaney in both circumstances. Of the two poems, I preferred 'Mid - Term Break' because I enjoy a poem which is thought and emotion provoking, and I did not feel that 'Blackberry Picking' provoked much emotion from me at all. ...read more.

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