• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Poem Analysis: Mid-term Break

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Poem Analysis: Mid-term Break Seamus Heaney himself is the narrator in the poem, Mid-term Break, a sad story from his childhood. It depicts the reactions of everyone around him and of himself to a death in the family. It does this through the poem's three parts: the waiting at school, the behaviour of everyone at home, and his solitary viewing of the body. This poem is unsentimental but full of emotions. The first stanza introduces Seamus sitting alone at school, in the "sick bay". He is waiting, and time passes slowly as he counts "bells knelling classes to a close". This tells the reader that the mid-term break is not a school holiday, as classes are still taking place. The boy is eventually picked up by his neighbours, which shows the reader that his parents are too busy to pick up their son, so it must be an important occasion. The next stanza starts with Seamus arriving home, and in the porch meeting his father, who is crying. This stanza tells us that we are witnessing a funeral. The reader still does not know who has died, but we know that it is a family member, perhaps a sibling or even the boy's mother. ...read more.

Middle

This very loose rhyming scheme is present throughout most of the poem and creates the impression of story telling. The exception to this is the last two lines, which form a rhyming couplet to make an impact: "no gaudy scars, the bumper knocked him clear. /A four foot box, a foot for every year". The poem contains eight sentences, which run through the lines and the stanzas, making the poem less like a poem and more like a story. The sentences are a mixture of lengths, which makes some of them very simple, for example "Next morning I went up to the room." Others, in particular the sentence which starts with the third stanza and runs through into the fifth, are very descriptive and show that he is taking everything in at once. The mood in the poem is sombre and sad. The tone of the poem is one of sorrow, grief, hurt and distress. The father is crying, the mother is so distraught she cannot cry. Heaney does not state his own emotions, but it is clear that he is hurting and however much he hides it, the reader can sense it through the poem's tone. The language in the poem is vernacular or every-day, simple, sparse and clear. ...read more.

Conclusion

One of the more striking images is the image of the "snowdrops and candles". Snowdrops are white and pure, which suggests innocence. Snowdrops grow up through frost and they represent a symbol of new life after death. The candles have a symbol of remembrance, and give a hint of religious significance. There is one main metaphor in the poem: the dead child is "wearing a poppy bruise". The idea that he is wearing the bruise gives the idea that it can almost be wiped off, or that it is not really part of the boy. This shows the reluctance of Heaney to admit that his younger brother is dead. This is echoed in the simile of "He lay in the four foot box as in a cot"; he would rather that his little brother is sleeping, not dead. In twenty-two lines of simple language, almost prose; Seamus Heaney has created a striking and shocking picture of the tragic death of a child. The poem is deceptive in its simplicity because it is full of imagery and has a deep impact. Without allowing himself any sentimentality, Heaney leaves us with a deep impression of the effect of the boy's death on the whole family. The last line in the poem, "A four foot box, a foot for every year", is one that is very famous. This is because it stays with the reader long after they have read the poem. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Seamus Heaney section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Seamus Heaney essays

  1. Peer reviewed

    Compare the poems 'Mid-Term Break' by Seamus Heaney and ' 'Out Out- ' ' ...

    4 star(s)

    This is similar to 'Mid-Term Break'. There is more immediacy in this poem with a commentary like manner at some points. It is similar to 'Mid-Term Break' as it takes us into the action and we become an 'observer' as the events unfold.

  2. Compare and Contrast "Out, Out" by Robert Frost and "Mid- Term Break" by Seamus ...

    This is a timeless poem as the sadness of death is felt by people every day and you can relate to it. I will now compare and contrast the poems. Both poems are on the theme of death. The layouts are a lot different as in "Out, Out" is written

  1. Compare and contrast the poems 'Out Out-' by Robert Frost and 'Mid Term Break' ...

    The boy's viewing of his brother's lifeless body is full of imagery; snowdrops, the first flowers to appear after the cold winter, remind us of the child's age - he was only in the early springtime of his life - and of the innocence of youth.

  2. Introduction to The Lesson and Mid-term Break

    The headmaster breaks the news in a rather hard, matter-of-fact manner. There is no attempt at emotional contact; we see this emotional distance in the rest of the poem too. The speaker seems to be concentrating on external detail - he notes that his headmaster is bald.

  1. Comparing 'Snowdrops' and 'Mid-termbreak'

    more, but I think that you can understand the story 'snowdrops' because there is simple descriptive writing used to display the fact that the story was written about and from the point of view from a small child. Also the ending to 'snowdrops' the boy finds out that what is

  2. Compare and contrast the poems 'Death of a Son', 'Mid-Term Break' and 'Remember' - ...

    Silkin somehow intuitively knows that this change is the peace of release from the constant toil of life and consequently death. 'Though he never spoke, this Was something to do with death' Nothing was ever said between them, but Silkin still knows, as a father can know his child.

  1. The poem Mid-Term Break versus the poem Caged Bird.

    This already gave me a gloomy picture in my mind of a depressed boy awaiting bad news. 'I sat all morning' shows that he must have been waiting for quite some time. Also, the speaker was, "Counting bells knell classes to a close," suggesting a pessimistic, darkly shaded outlook.

  2. What do we learn about Seamus Heaney's childhood experiences of growing up in "Mid- ...

    I believe here Heaney is trying to portray that the baby is oblivious to its surroundings. As he walks into the room, "whispers" informed strangers that he was the eldest, who was "away at school." Here I believe Heaney is feeling sense of anxiety and very uncomfortable, as he realises people are talking "behind his back".

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work