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What are the attitudes of the poets towards death and how do they use language to convey these views? Heaney and Donne

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Introduction

What are the attitudes of the poets towards death and how do they use language to convey these views? The first of the two poems 'Mid-Term Break' written by Seamus Heaney is about a boy who is taken out of school to attend his younger brothers funeral. This poem shows death as a traumatic experience. On the other hand the second poem 'Death Be Not Proud' by John Donne looks upon death as a means to a greater end and if you have faith then you will live forever and conquer death. The title of Seamus Heaney's poem 'Mid-Term Break' can be interpreted in many different ways. It can be seen as a literal title a break in the middle of term. This is ironic because when you think of a mid-term break you think of going on holiday and having fun, not going to your younger brother's funeral. ...read more.

Middle

Donne personalises death, telling him 'Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, Kings, and desperate men.' Death does not decide who dies, and has to rely on other factors, like fate, chance, kings (who when the poem was written could sentence people to death) and desperate men meaning murderers. Donne feels that death has no power, because he has a belief in god so his life will be eternal. So death is simply a step on the way to god, and has no importance in itself as the title suggests. One of the most visible differences between the two poems is the form. 'Death Be Not Proud' is in the form of a sonnet with the first eight lines being about why death had no reason to be proud, and the last six lines about how little power death has over people. ...read more.

Conclusion

that he was injured before death and the use of 'a poppy bruise' this could have been used to create a shocking contrast between death and a flower, or to show death as a natural thing. But in 'Death Be Not Proud' by John, death is described as a pleasurable experience, 'From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee, Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow.' Sleeping and resting are virtually the same as death, so if we enjoy sleep and resting, we'll love death. In 'Mid-Term Break' by Seamus Heaney death is described as something that happens to you. But in John Donne's poem 'Death Be Not Proud' death is personified 'nor yet canst thou kill mee.' This is to shrink the hugeness of death down into one body, to make it a less frightening thing to think about. Thomas Redman 07/05/2007 1 ...read more.

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