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The main theme for these two poems is death and how it effects Heaney in its different forms as a child.

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Introduction

Heaney Essay The main theme for these two poems is death and how it effects Heaney in its different forms as a child. Both poems discuss his emotions and how he reacts in each and every situation. Heaney was brought up in Ireland on a small farm so he had to deal with death on a day to day basis, whether it be newly born animals or loved ones; Heaney encountered it all. As the poems progress we begin to see more of Heaney's personality and how he deals with deaths not matter how small they are. Eventually, we begin to see changes in him, as the boy becomes a man and he starts to grow up. 'Midterm Break' begins with Heaney describing how bored he is and how slowly time is passing for him personally. He says, "I sat all morning in the college sick bay," this suggests that he feels like he has been waiting for ages. It is also ironic that he is sat in the college sick as he is not sick at all but his little brother is dead. "Counting bells knelling," really shows how bored he is, as you must be really stuck for something to do if you are counting the number of bells that ring. Within this line there is also evidence to show that death is at the forefront of Heaney's mind as he describes the bells as, "knelling." A knelling is what you would usually get at some ones funeral. Although it is not obvious, the thoughts of his brother's death are there they are just shown in very subtle ways. Another person that is thinking about the death is Heaney's father, this however, is a lot more visible. His father has taken the death very hard, which we are told is unusual. "In the porch I met my father crying, He had always taken funerals in his stride," points out just how hard he has taken the death, and how strange it was for his father to be crying. ...read more.

Middle

This also shows he has begun to accept who the corpse is. Within this line there is also proof to show that Heaney hardly ever saw his brother, Heaney most feel bad about this, even though I doubt it is his fault, as he wouldn't of mentioned it otherwise. I'm sure Heaney regrets the fact that he hardly ever got to see his little brother, and i think that he feels responsible for this when it is in no way his fault. In the next stanza Heaney begins to notice things about his little brother, like the bruise on the side of his head. He describes it as "Poppy" shaped. This is ironic as poppies are the symbol of rememberance and I don't think Heaney will ever forget his little brother. Also heroin and opium can be derived from the seeds of poppies, these are both very effective pain killers. His brother now feels no pain, no hurt, no suffering as a result of the accident. Once again on the next line Heaney is remembering his brother when he was alive as he says, "He lay in the four foot box as in his cot." This is also a simile and it also points out again how young he was when he died, as Heaney can remember when his brother was a little child as it was not long ago. "A four foot box, a foot for every year," is Heaney's closing line. This is a very abrupt ending, just like his brothers. The line breaks the pattern of the three line stanza and throws you off. Heaney has quiet obviously done this for effect and to leave you with something to think about. This line is basically the punch line to the poem as it thrusts into your face how horrific it must be to see a child of that age dead, lying in his coffin. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, he just says "on well run farms pests have to be kept down. The goes totally against what he was saying at the start of the poem. He is almost repeating what Dan has said to him right from the start, its almost as if Heaney has been indoctrinated from living on a farm. His emotions have now been permanently dulled to the point where he does not care about the animals on the farm, as all he sees them as is away of making money. I think the reason he says "on well run farms pests have to be kept down," instead of just farms, is that if the pests were not killed the farm would not function properly. These animals do not have to be killed but they do if money is to be made. This is what the people in town do not see, this is why they think killing animals is cruel, because the do not have to make a living out of this. In the final two verses more change can be seen in Heaney than in the whole of The Early Purges. He has finally grown up and got rid of his childish sentiments and his priorities have changed. This is very much like the last two verses of Mid Term Break in the fact huge changes can be seen in the way Heaney acts. In Mid Term Break Heaney finally comes to terms with his brothers death, and in The Early Purges he accepts that the animals have to be killed. In his own little way Heaney grows up in each poem. The moral of The Early purges is, in essence, how ever much you grow attached to something on a farm when it becomes useless it will have to be killed. In some respects this has some parallels in life. I think this is what Heaney is really trying to point out. ...read more.

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