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How do the poets write about childhood death in 'On my First Sonne' and 'Mid-term break'?

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Introduction

MID-TERM BREAK AND ON MY FIRST SONNE How do the poets write about childhood death in 'On my First Sonne' and 'Mid-term break'? The death of a child has a great power to move us. In this essay I will be discussing how the poets write about childhood death in 'On my first Sonne' and 'Mid-term break. It would be a far more common event in the 17th Century, when these poems were written, as childhood illness was often fatal. On my First Sonne is written by Ben Jonson. It is an elegy in which the poet expresses his sorrow for the death of his first son. Jonson contrasts his feelings of sorrow with what he thinks he should feel; happiness that his son is in a better place. Shamus Heaney records a similar experience in 'Mid-term break'. The poem is about the death of Heaney's infant brother and how people, including him, reacted to this. The poem's title suggests a holiday but this "break" does not happen for pleasant reasons. ...read more.

Middle

The young Seamus is made uneasy by the baby's happiness on seeing him, by the "old men" shaking his hand and their euphemisms, like "Sorry for my trouble", and by whispers about him. When late at night the child's body is returned Heaney refers to this as "the corpse". He no longer sees this as a person. However the final two stanzas in which Heaney is alone with his brother where he can be natural. This contrasts greatly with the embarrassing scenes earlier in the poem. In this stanza he uses personal pronouns such as "him", "his" and "he", as opposed to the insensitive term, "the corpse". In the last two stanzas Heaney portrays a calm mood, "Snowdrops/And candles soothed the bedside", literally they soothed Heaney. In 'On my first Sonne' is more about Jonson tying to find a meaning for his loss than mourning his son's death. The poet sees the boy's death as caused by his, not his son's sin, in loving the child too much, an idea that returns at the end of the poem. ...read more.

Conclusion

He concludes by vowing that from now on he will be more careful with those he loves; he will be wary of liking and so needing them too much. Jonson writes as if talking or writing to his son. He calls him the child of his "right hand" both to suggest the boy's great worth and also the fact that he would have been the writer's heir. This is another religious image in the poem. It comes from the Bible it reflecting ancient cultures and the way Jesus is shown as sitting at God's right hand. The poem contains several old English words such as "thou" and "Sonne". In conclusion the 'On my first Sonne' and 'Mid-term break' explore different aspects of childhood death. In 'Mid-term Break' Heaney uses the many ways of morning to portray the effects and pandemonium caused by the death of a child. Whereas, 'On my first Sonne' is more focused on justifying the death and the consequent pain caused by the death of a child. Both of these methods are very effective in helping the reader feel the trauma that the loss of a child can cause. ...read more.

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