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The two poems I am going to compare are Mid-Term Break by Seamus Heaney and Death Be Not Proud by John Donne.

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Introduction

POETRY BY LISA FLEMING The first poem I am going to study is a poem by Seamus Heaney called Mid-Term Break. Seamus Heaney was born in County Derry into a farming background. He attended St. Columb's College in Derry where he was a border. Heaney went on to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. The poet's title Mid-Term Break is somewhat ambiguous as it would suggest a holiday of some sort, whereas, the poem is actually about the death of Heaney's young brother who was killed in a tragic accident. The thoughts of death are brought to the fore almost immediately as the poem begins with a funeral note in line two: '...counting bells knelling classes to a close.' The word 'knelling' reminds the poet of the church bells tolling for a funeral. In the second stanza we are aware that the tragedy which has occurred is different as funerals usually did not disturb his father in the way that this one had. Heaney recalls the embarrassment he felt when the adults sympathised with him and paid his deference saying 'they were sorry for my trouble.' This seemed to perplex him as it was a reversal of roles. There is a sense of alienation in the forth stanza when he heard the whispers of the neighbours, apart from his mother's hand in his. ...read more.

Middle

The fact that even 'our best men' will embark on death's journey is targeted at those who fear death as the final chapter. The poet's next two lines wound death's pride and diminish its power since Donne argues death cannot act alone. An accomplice is needed to complete its deeds. A rather comprehensive list of partners is presented: 'fate, chance, kings and desperate men' Deaths might must bow down to mere chance at times, and humans such as kings and beggars can obligate death to act. Thus, death is nothing special, if it can be ordered by men of such different walks of life. Donne is convinced that both death and sleep are the same type of action, and as a result, he makes no distinction between them. The poem ends by remarking that after the resting period that death constitutes, humans will enter the afterlife, a period in which death will cease to exist. The final line of the poem is a paradox, as Donne concludes: '...and death shall be no more, Death thou shalt die.' When I first read both poems I was drawn immediately towards Mid-Term Bread only because of the simplicity of the language used. However, after carefully studying both poems my preference now lies with Death Be Not Proud. It is an interesting poem that expresses the act of dying as something natural and pleasant; abandoning the reputation it has for being frightening or powerful. ...read more.

Conclusion

There is a stark contrast between the languages used by each poet. Heaney uses a simplistic modern language, while Donne's poem is written in archaic language. The issue of death is approached differently also. Heaney deals with the emotions felt when a death occurs. He shows how it effects those left behind and the way a community comes together to give support and comfort. Donne, on the other hand, deals with the mystery and fear that sounds death. Although we will all have to die eventually it is still something that scares us but Donne tries to alleviate those fears by telling us that death is just another part of life that will lead us to eternity. Heaney seemed to be emotionally detached throughout his poem until the final line whereas Donne was very passionate about his feeling from the start. When I first read both poems I was drawn instantly towards Mid-Term Break only because of the simplicity of the language. However, after carefully studying both poems my preference now lies with Death Be Not Proud. It is an interesting poem that expresses the act of dying as something natural and pleasant; abandoning the reputation it has for being frightening or powerful. It expresses that death is not the end of life, but only the beginning. ...read more.

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