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Discuss how Seamus Heaney presents childhood in "Death of a naturalist" and "Mid term break".

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Discuss how Seamus Heaney presents childhood in "Death of a naturalist" and "Mid term break". The poet Seamus Heaney is describing to incidents from childhood. "Mid term break" depicts the sombre affair of a child's death. "Death of a naturalist" on the other hand tells us of a happy event. Although the two poems are written by Seamus Heaney they are not alike, death of a naturalist for example is about a boy and his interest in nature at school. Mid term break tells us about a young boy and his brother dying in his family. The narrators of both poems are young boys who are both describing an incident from the past. The narrator of death of a naturalist is describing a nature lesson at school and is linking nature to growing up e.g. describing the tadpoles turning into frogs. Mid term break is totally the opposite the narrator is a young lad from a big family and his brother has died he describes his feelings and the hardship he and his family are going through. At the beginning of Death of a Naturalist the mood starts quite low and down putting it uses word such as festered, heavy headed, rotten, sweltered and punishing. ...read more.


There are many mataphors in both poems there is one extended methphor in death of a naturalist which is simpely sensational it help give us an image of what the poem is about. The major extended methphor is about growing up and leaving behind the innocence of childhood. Although there is no similar extended methphor in Mid Term Break There is a high overall imperession of childhood.The boy does not know how to respond to the men and does not understand properly what is going on. The silence in the poem is broken again in the second line when whispers start to happen. Also, this shows the men do not know how to respond to the boy and probably paused to find the best way of saying it to the boy: "Whispers informed strangers I was the eldest Always at school, as my mother held my hand" This shows how the silence is broken as people inform strangers that the poet is the eldest. This indicates that he is or was not the only child and maybe the person who died was his brother or sister. ...read more.


I love both of these two poems I think personally that mid term break I better as it offers a lot more in the way of emotion and feelings I love the use of symbolism in the poem. The poppy bruise standing for violent and untimely death just ties in so well. love this poem, as it echoes the different stages of grief. From the disbelief of it all, to when it finally sets in that his baby brother has died. I like the way Heaney has used the imagery of his brother simply being asleep. As he finds it hard to understand that his brother, a young boy with his whole life ahead of him, has been hit by a car and killed. Death of a naturalist is also an excelent piece of poetry too as "Death of a Naturalist" is concerned with growing up and loss of innocence. The poet vividly describes a childhood experience that precipitates a change in the boy from the receptive and protected innocence of childhood to the fear and uncertainty of adolescence. I could realte mid term break because my grandad was killed by a car a few years ago. AMDG Monday 29th September 03 Daniel Whelan ...read more.

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Response to the question

The question here asks it's candidates to discuss how Seamus Heaney presents the image of childhood in two of his poems - 'Death of a Naturalist' and 'Mid-Term Break'. In this answer, the candidate addresses both poems in turn, though ...

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Response to the question

The question here asks it's candidates to discuss how Seamus Heaney presents the image of childhood in two of his poems - 'Death of a Naturalist' and 'Mid-Term Break'. In this answer, the candidate addresses both poems in turn, though they often get bogged down in what they poems are trying to say, rather than actually analysing how Heaney accomplishes it. There is a recurrent focus on the imagery conjured up in the poems, and often the candidate contradicts themselves in doing so - they speak of the mood at the beginning of 'Death of a Naturalist' to be "low and down putting (sic)", yet then describe it as a summer landscape, which is quite stereotypically the opposite. To opening lines are a mix of both actually, with the summer afternoon humming with nature and sweltering heat - there is a sense of impending danger here.

Level of analysis

In terms of analysis, this answer scrapes the surface but very rarely manages to delve much further than the obvious. Most particularly, the candidate spends a lot of time talking about what the poems are about and the feeling the reader gets in very general terms, without really applying any of the poems' context. There doesn't seem to be a very good understanding of Heaney's reasons for writing 'Death of a Naturalist', though there is evidence of some appreciation of the motivation behind 'Mid-Term Break'. Contextual appreciation is imperative for any candidate wishing to score higher than a C grade. Candidates must partake in external research - it often surpasses many GCSE students that the internet is an expendable source of information about these very poems, considering thousands of other students around the world are studying the exact same poems - a lot has been written about Seamus Heaney's poetry in professional journalists' blogs etc., and these are an absolutely invaluable source of external information that can be integrated in the candidate's own answer; they can also help with an understanding of poems and their themes - something which appears greatly lacking in this answer.

Quality of writing

The Quality of Written Communication shown by this candidate is poor. The method of quoting is very poor as well. There are almost no quotation marks used when sourcing the poem, which is unacceptable at GCSE standard and there is a frequent disregard for the standard of grammar. Furthermore, there is little use of appropriate punctuation, even with points as simple as commas. There must be care taken with QWC as the expression of the candidates' answer is just as important as the analysis; it does not matter how good the answer is - if the answer cannot be read, then examiners will deduct marks.

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