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Mid-Term Break: Critical Essay. Heaney reveals his true feelings to us in the poem and makes it real to us by using various techniques. How Heaney achieves this will be the subject of this essay.

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Introduction

Mid-Term Break: Critical Essay The grief Seamus Heaney suffered when his younger brother died is obvious after reading his poem Mid-Term Break. Heaney reveals his true feelings to us in the poem and makes it real to us by using various techniques. How Heaney achieves this will be the subject of this essay. In the first stanza of his poem, Heaney describes the anxiety he undergoes while waiting for his neighbours to pick him up from boarding school. Following this stanza he then describes the events that occurred when he arrived home. Heaney ends the poem with a single sentence saying "A four foot box, a foot for every year". When we read the title Mid-Term Break, we expect this to be a happy poem as it indicates a holiday but even though we are unsure what this poem is about, we instantly realise that this is not a cheery poem about a young boy's holiday. Our first clue is that it says he spent all morning in the "college sick bay"; you do not tend to associate sick bays with good things. ...read more.

Middle

Even though this is a sad scene, the baby is happy and innocent as it has no knowledge of the situation. Heaney also tells us he is embarrassed that old men stand up to hold his hand and tell him that they are sorry for his trouble. He feels awkward because this is a case of role reversal; children are supposed to stand up in respect to old men. Once again this is emphasized with alliteration. Another instance of role reversal is when he holds his mother's hand. His mother begins to break down and cough out "angry tearless sighs", while there is no reference to even the slightest gasp from Heaney. This is intensified with the use of assonance ("tearless sighs... ambulance arrived").Normally children are the ones to break down while the adult is the one who is calm and contained. The roles are reversed. Heaney says that the ambulance arrives "with the corpse" rather that with the person's name, which suggests that the death has not been accepted by him yet. ...read more.

Conclusion

He emphasizes the youth of this person again by saying "He lay in the four foot box as in his cot". The conclusion to the poem is a one line stanza. It reads "A four foot box, a foot for every year." This stands out because it is short and snappy. Because it is in its own stanza, it prints itself into your mind and makes you think about it again and again and again. We now know that the dead person is in fact a four year old child. The alliteration emphasizes the youth of this child. Now that I have read this poem and studied it in detail, I believe that I understand the pain and grief Heaney suffered. He intelligently used words and phrases with double meanings and he used large amounts of alliteration which made the facts in this poem stand out; that Heaney was deeply traumatised by this experience and it has stayed with him all this time. The alliteration in this poem is repetitive, so even though it is effective at making this whole ordeal seem like an old memory of your own that you are reliving, it does become a bit boring after a few stanzas. ...read more.

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Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

3 star(s)

There is useful analysis in this essay, informed by sensitivity to the structure and development of the poem. References to the text are used to good effect, though some claims are insufficiently supported.

Paragraph and sentence construction are well controlled and lexis is up to the task.

3 stars

Marked by teacher Jeff Taylor 13/08/2013

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