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Mid-Term Break - Seamus Heaney, On my first Sonne - Ben Jonson - Which poem expresses the experience of grief best?

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Mid-Term Break - Seamus Heaney On my first Sonne - Ben Jonson Which poem expresses the experience of grief best? On my first Sonne is a very direct way of expressing the grief that occurs when a child in the family dies. It is about the feelings that Ben Jonson goes through, and the poem describes his emotions and thoughts in detail. On the other hand, Mid-Term Break uses indirect ways to portray grief, by describing events that happen after the death. "Farewell, thou child". On my first Sonne openly addresses the deceased boy in the poem. The poem is to him, and about him. Ben Jonson uses faith to help him through the bereavement. Biblical phrases ("child of my right hand", "my sinne was" and "all his vowes") are scattered through the text. Jonson's thoughts are deeply Christian ("tho'wert lent to me" and "the state he should envie"). ...read more.


Mid term break is overall more subtle in its approaches to express grief. It describes the events surrounding the death, not the emotions the poet went through. Grief is also brought out through the choice of words; for example "knelling". "Knell" is a word used to describe the ringing of death bells, but not school bells. The narrative in the first stanza takes a detached and spaced-out rhythm. This shows the shock that has hit the poet, and how he has distanced himself from the tragic event. Through the whole poem, the rhythm remains slow, revealing how the poet feels unsure and isolated. "as my mother held my hand / in hers and coughed out angry tearless sighs" These lines show the grief, that Seams Heaney cannot express alone, being expressed by his mother for him. He mentions his father crying in the fourth line because it is so out of the ordinary that he has to mention it. ...read more.


The poem changes tone from line 16 onwards. The poet has had time to think about his brother's death, and then approaches his brother alone. The phrase "wearing a poppy bruise" has overtones of death (poppies are associated with Remembrance day), but also the fact that he is "wearing" a bruise rather than having a bruise indicates that he is not normally in that state, and the poet does not see him as such. The rhythm works best in this poem in the final line, "a four foot box, a foot for every year". The slow pace stresses the tragedy of the event, and gives an insight into the mind of the poet, after he has had a chance to think about it. In conclusion, I believe that the poem Mid-Term Break the experience of grief better than On my first Sonne, because I prefer an indirect approach to the emotions surrounding bereavement. The style of writing and context make it more modern, and makes it seem more relevant. ...read more.

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