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Mid-Term Break by Seamus Heaney.

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Introduction

Mid-Term Break by Seamus Heaney. 'Mid-Term Break' by the poet Seamus Heaney is about a personal experience that he has encountered. It deals with the issues of life and death in a family and also how different people cope. The title at first suggests that the poem is going to be about a holiday, but as you get into the poem further, you realise that the title has a far deeper and darker meaning... In the first stanza, we learn that Seamus Heaney is in a college sick bay waiting to be picked up. You get suspicious when he is being picked up his neighbour, which could indicate that something serious has happened. Time is passing slowly, and Heaney uses alliteration to show this. "Counting bells knelling classes to a close." Already so early in the poem, we sense that something is wrong due to the poets word choice of 'knelling'. Knelling is when a church bell rings to signify a funeral. The clues become more apparent as you move through the stanzas, and are very effective in arousing your suspicions. ...read more.

Middle

As Seamus Heaney walks into the room, he talks about how he was embarrassed to see old men standing up and shaking his hand to show their respect. He is then met by his mother who is in such a state of shock and disbelief that she is coughing out angry and tearless sighs, meaning that she cannot come to terms with what has happened. We now start to realise that something has happened which would make a mother and father break down, and suggests that it is a brother or sister of the poets. Later on in the poem, we find out that it was actually the brother who was killed. The fact that Heaney had been away at boarding school and had not seen the boy for six weeks, makes you feel sympathetic and you can almost feel Heaneys' pain by this point. When he goes in... "Snowdrops and candles soothed the bedside" The snowdrops simply represent the innocence of the boy, and maybe even hint at the time of year that this had happened. ...read more.

Conclusion

The boy was only four years old, and was killed in a road traffic accident... "A four foot box, a foot for every year." The poet is emphasizing the fact that his brother was just an innocent child, and did not deserve to die at such an early stage in his life. He places this line separate from the rest of the stanzas and this draws your attention to it; making you think about how precious life is, and just when you think that you have it all figured out, something happens that makes you question the purpose of life again. We think that the natural order is for adults to die before children and that is why it is such a hard thing to come to terms with when a child dies in a family. A point i think that Heaney was trying to stress to the reader, is that no matter what tragedies happen in life, in the end we just have to move on and accept the past so we can move onto the future. Kirsty Allan ...read more.

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