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What do we learn about Seamus Heaney's childhood experiences of growing up in "Mid- Term Break" and "Early Purges"?

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Introduction

What do we learn about Seamus Heaney's childhood experiences of growing up in "Mid- Term Break" and "Early Purges"? After reading "Mid-Term Break" and "Early Purges", both poems written by Seamus Heaney, I found that they are both written about past experience, when Heaney was a child. "Mid-Term Break" was about the death of his younger brother, however "Early Purges" was set on a farm, and about animals being slaughtered. Although they are both set in his childhood, they are both similarly about death, that of his brother, and the farm animals. "Mid-Term Break" was the first poem I read. After reading the first stanza, the sad atmosphere created by Heaney, was instantly detected. Heaney explains how he "sat all morning in the college bay" and started, "Counting bells knelling to close." These two lines indicate that he was waiting for something, as the word "counting" is usually used to describe if time passes very slowly, which really means that you are waiting for something. However, what is even more interesting is that he uses the word "knelling". Knell is usually the word associated with funerals, as it is the ringing bells at a funeral. After waiting in the "college bay", he is then taken home by his neighbours. Not many people today would trust their neighbours with such a responsibility, so they must have very close or family friends. ...read more.

Middle

"He lay in a four foot box as in his cot". A short sentence like this has a lot of impact, as is the phrase used in his next line, "no gaudy scars". The final line is most effective as it has a lot of impact, regular rhythm, and a little alliteration, "A four foot box, a foot for every year." The language used in this final stanza and line is so simple and yet so effective as the picture of this child is their, built into your brain, a child only four foot tall just lying their in a coffin, with a big red bruise on his left temple. The second poem that we studied was the "Early Purges". It is another autobiographical poem like "Mid-Term Break" and the scene this time is on a farm. However, this time Heaney explains and illustrates his shock after witnessing a death for the first time. At the age of six, he witnessed the small helpless kittens, drowned heartlessly by Dan Taggart, a farmer. In the first stanza, Heaney conveys to the reader his age when he first saw the kittens drown. This proves to us that the kittens were neglected and unwanted by showing some actual dialogue used by Dan Taggart which is quite abrupt. ` Dan Taggart pitched them, "the scraggy wee shits".' Although dialogue is quite infrequent among poems, the dialogue used is very abrupt, and gives the impression that Dan Taggart doesn't care ...read more.

Conclusion

The final stanza is made up of two figures of speech, which add to immediacy and a down-to-earth feel to the poem. "Prevention of cruelty" is a figure of speech frequently used by people who are against animal cruelty. The last one is " After reading and studying both of these poems, I have found that they are both about the poet's childhood, and using powerful, descriptive and some emotive language, gives the reader the impression of how exactly Seamus Heaney felt during those experiences. Although in "Early Purges" he is frightened to death by witnessing the slaughtering of the kittens, he shows another point of view, when he is older, more mature and fully understands. In a similar way, "Mid-Term Break" was also about death, only this time it was his brother Christopher, who had died in a car accidents. I think in "Mid-Term Break" he conveys his feelings when he walks into the room and feel "embarrassed by old men standing up" to shake his hand. Using different varieties of language like emotive language, adds more impact to the poem and the reader. Personally, I think that "Early Purges" was the more interesting poem as Heaney uses more different uses of language, like similes and metaphors, onomatopoeia and many more. In "Mid-Term Break" he only use similes and a metaphor which is not very interesting. Unfortunately, I believe he was also hiding away most of his feelings, as he only expresses one, how he felt when grown men shook his hand. ...read more.

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