Compare and contrast the similarities and Differences between the poems of Seamus Heaney and D.H.Lawrence

Authors Avatar

Paul Earle

Coursework Essay


The poets Seamus Heaney and D. H. Lawrence frequently describe their own childhood memories in their poems. ‘Mid-Term Break’ and ‘The Early Purges’ by Heaney, both show great examples of the way Heaney felt about many things, like death and relationships, as do the poems ‘Piano’ and ‘Discord in Childhood’ by D. H. Lawrence. Lawrence was born in 1885, the fourth child of five. His father was an irresponsible alcoholic, and Lawrence was “born hating his father” and “shivered at his touch”. Heaney, however, loved and hugely respected his family and especially his father. Heaney was born in 1939 at the start of WW2. He, unlike Lawrence, was the eldest of nine children, and was brought up and worked on his father’s farm, before being sent to a boarding school when he was twelve. Lawrence’s parents had a violent relationship – “one big bloody fight”, because of his father’s temper. Lawrence was much closer to his mother because she was highly educated and they understood each other.

Heaney’s poem ‘Mid-Term Break’ is all about the death of one of Heaney’s younger brother. Heaney conveys many feelings in this poem, like growing up, childhood, memories, and death. He uses many modern techniques in this poem: caesura for emphasis on certain things, enjambment to create a sense of continuity running through the poem, alliteration, imagery and many more. Heaney also portrays a lot of memories in this poem. First the title: ‘Mid’, implies an interruption in his life and childhood, and an early introduction to adulthood, but also ‘Break’, is a harsh, tough word, that could mean the break in his brother’s life and childhood. In the first stanza he mentions sitting ‘all morning in the college sick bay’. This was when he was awaiting to be driven home to his brother’s funeral from his boarding school, and was feeling isolated and loneliness from the rest of the world.

Heaney sees his father crying in the second verse. ‘In the porch I met my father crying’, this is also the first implication that the funeral is that of a member of the Heaney family. He also mentioned Big Jim Evans – another big, strong role model, affected by the death. The next verse says: ‘The baby cooed and laughed and rocked the pram’, which is incongruous and doesn’t fit in with everything else. Later, Heaney’s hand was shaken ‘by old men’, and Heaney was embarrassed, because he should have been showing them respect. He was told: ‘they were “sorry for my trouble”’, which is cliché, and he felt a huge amount of responsibility when ‘whispers informed strangers I was the eldest’. Heaney’s mother ‘coughed out angry tearless sighs’ because she was either angry with herself for not looking after her son, or angry with the driver of the car that ‘knocked him clear’. In the poem, Heaney felt many things: embarrassment, sadness, and awkwardness. The last verse of the poem reveals the age of his dead brother. The alliteration and sharpness of the last line, really makes you realize how young he was, and how hard it must have been for the Heaney family. The last verse is also set apart from the rest of the poem, because it has only one line. This makes it even more important, because the reader will notice it more, and also pay more attention to it, and what it means.

Join now!

Heaney’s other poem ‘The Early Purges’ focuses on Heaney growing up through his childhood, and his journey to becoming an adult, and obtaining a different perspective on certain things. ‘The Early Purges’, is very significant. ‘Early’ implies something that happened to Heaney when he was young – early on in his life, and ‘Purge’ means to rid yourself of impurities and sin. It also makes the poem sound as if it won’t be endurable. This poem is about bad things that have happened to Heaney. It is all about death. As a young boy, Seamus Heaney helped to work ...

This is a preview of the whole essay