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Mid-Term Break Analysis



Author: poem of Seamus Heaney Type: poem Views: 52


I sat all morning in the college sick bay
Counting bells knelling classes to a close.
At two o'clock our neighbors drove me home.

In the porch I met my father crying--
He had always taken funerals in his stride--
And Big Jim Evans saying it was a hard blow.

The baby cooed and laughed and rocked the pram
When I came in, and I was embarrassed
By old men standing up to shake my hand

And tell me they were "sorry for my trouble,"
Whispers informed strangers I was the eldest,
Away at school, as my mother held my hand

In hers and coughed out angry tearless sighs.
At ten o'clock the ambulance arrived
With the corpse, stanched and bandaged by the nurses.

Next morning I went up into the room. Snowdrops
And candles soothed the bedside; I saw him
For the first time in six weeks. Paler now,

Wearing a poppy bruise on his left temple,
He lay in the four foot box as in his cot.
No gaudy scars, the bumper knocked him clear.

A four foot box, a foot for every year.


Submitted by Jim Rain

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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||




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Seamus Heaney would have been about thirteen or fourteen years old when the tragic event occurred as he was only accepted into St.Columbs College at the age of twelve. As some of the comments have expressed death was a rather often occurrence in Ireland at the time, Heaney would have, most likely, experienced death a number of times by the age of thirteen/fourteen. However, though he may have been well acquainted with death, perhaps he had never experienced it in so close a manner. RIP Seamus Heaney and Christopher Heaney.

| Posted on 2014-03-18 | by a guest


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This is a sad poem,which tells the real love of a brother.It makes us to be more attached with our kindred.

| Posted on 2014-01-13 | by a guest


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In this poem Heaney is paralysed by the shock, standing in the background almost as a third person. Although he is aware of whats going on he doesn\'t realise the enormity of it until find his mother coughing \'\'angry tearless sighs\'\' and his \'\'father crying\'\'. Seeing his mother and father in such a state brings him into shock which is why it seem like he is floating around in a dream like state for the rest of the poem. When seeing his brothers corpse in the room it is as if he is pulled out of his state of shock and back to reality realising what is going on which is why we are struck emotionally by his last line in a stanza of its own. \'\'A four foot box, a foot for every year\'\'.

| Posted on 2013-02-02 | by a guest


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Following my own investigation, thousands of people on our planet get the mortgage loans at various banks. Thence, there\'s good chances to get a small business loan in all countries.

| Posted on 2012-11-21 | by a guest


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In addition to the comments above I would like to draw your attention to the contrast between school and home. The sick-bay where he sits at the beginning of the poem is the sanctuary, the safe place although in a normal situation it would be less familiar and less comforting than home. He returns into a topsy-turvy world which he cannot understand because of its new unfamiliarity. Although he old enough to understand the permanence of death, he is not experienced enough to understand the customs of a funeral and is describing the events as though he is a traveller in a strange land.
In a way it is once he is away from other people and with his brother, Christopher, that reality intrudes and he faced with the ordinariness of death which he explains in a matter-of-fact description of what he sees. To me that last line shows a sudden maturity as he connects with the symbolism of the four feet for four years. Behind that connection I hear the question why? Children would ask why a someone dies, but an adult would ask why a child dies so young. I feel that in that instant he himself lost his childhood.
The way in which this is written is so effective. The death of a child is one of the saddest subjects for poetry and has often been visited with emotional words and a self-conscious aim to make you the reader, or listener, react emotionally. Heaney has done the opposite. In the matter-of-fact observational retelling of the sequence of events he plays no poetic tricks so it is possible to visualise the scene without becoming emotionally involved. He maintains this detatchment throughout the poem, almost holding you at arms length. With that final devastating line he almost kicks you in the stomach, invites you to feel the full emotional impact of what the whole poem has been describing. It flows naturally from the rest of the poem, it provides the heart-wrenching full stop at the end, and it is all done so skillfully that you don\'t notice how he has played with your reactions so, despite knowing exactly where the poem is leading the end still comes as a shock. Masterly!

| Posted on 2012-10-10 | by a guest


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This is really sad. I had to chose a poem on nature, annotate it and describe the emotions on both writer and reader. Its great and was worth reading for my Englsh.
Guest

| Posted on 2012-05-20 | by a guest


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This poem has allowed me to feel what the writer is feeling due to the expressions used.i do feel what is happening
This is a ell written poem

| Posted on 2012-05-14 | by a guest


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I just dont have understand this poem, but hsve to analyse the poetic techniques for an english essay, Need help!!!

| Posted on 2012-05-08 | by a guest


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thanks for the info, does anyone know what changes there are in the final seven lines?

| Posted on 2012-05-02 | by a guest


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Snowdrops is a bulbous plant it doesnt mean actual snow drops. The room was decorated with candles and a early blooming plant

| Posted on 2012-03-23 | by a guest


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help me with the question plz.Seamus Heaney often writes about childhood and families. In Mid
Term Break, what do you think he is trying to say about childhood and
growing up?

| Posted on 2012-03-22 | by a guest


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help me with the question plz.Seamus Heaney often writes about childhood and families. In Mid
Term Break, what do you think he is trying to say about childhood and
growing up?

| Posted on 2012-03-22 | by a guest


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This poem named mid term break, written by Seamus Heaney speaks of the follow up of the death of Heaneys younger brother Chris. At the start of the poem, Heaney is in the collage sick bay at the Bording School he went to. He is in the sick bay because he is waiting for someone to come and pick him up and bring him home. His neighbors then come and drove him home. When he got home he found his father crying (line 4). His father normally took funerals in his stride (line 5). Heaney went inside and his baby sibling laughed because h/she did not know what was going on. Heaney was embarrassed because old men stood up to shake his hand. He was embarrassed because normally younger people would stand up and shake the older peoples hand. Also the people were most probable people that he did not know very well at all. The men told him that they were sorry for his trouble. To add to the embarrassment, the men were whispering that he was the oldest child in the family. Heaneys mother held his hand and coughed out angry tearless sighs (line 13).the ambulance came to the heaneys home at ten o clock. The ambulance had the corpse of Chris (heaneys younger brother). It says that the corpse was bandaged by the nurses. Heaney went up into the room the next morning and saw Chris for the first time in six weeks. He did not see him because he was a boarding school for six weeks. The room was decorated because it says that Snowdrops and candles soothed the bed side (line 17). Chris had a poppy bruise on his left temple and he had no scratches at all. Chris had no scratches because it says in line 21 the bumper knocked him clear. This is referring to Chris being hit by a car, and the bumper of the car knocked him out of the way of the wheels. The last line is moving because it says a four foot box, a foot four every year. This is saying that chris was only four years old.

| Posted on 2012-03-20 | by a guest


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i think hamsters dying is a serious problem. it clearly affected the girl. maybe she could write a poem on it?

| Posted on 2012-03-16 | by a guest


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i hope midge is okay. but this poem is about a serious matter and should be discussed fully.

| Posted on 2012-03-16 | by a guest


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i\'m so sorry to hear about youy hamster midge. what\'a shame.

| Posted on 2012-03-16 | by a guest


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This poem is really sad. it reminds of a girls story about her hamster midge that died, its was tuching

| Posted on 2012-03-16 | by a guest


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This poem is really sad. it reminds of a girls story about her hamster midge that died, its was tuching

| Posted on 2012-03-16 | by a guest


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doing this for english right now. finding this very helpful. very good poem when u look into it

| Posted on 2012-03-15 | by a guest


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I know the Irish and recall my father-in-law telling me about a time when the family went to the graveyard to bury a young child. On their arrival home, two more had died of some childhood illness. So there was a time when death was a part of life that people dealt with personally rather than through a funeral director. At that time, they were at the cutting of life as opposed to one place removed as we are in our death-denying society.
What is so touching and remarkable about Heaney\'s are how he captures the emotions of events such as the death of a child and the bewilderment, helplessness and sorrow experienced at the event. Recognizing that as life evolves, we will stop only briefly to note the death of a child who in earlier times might not have been named until 8 years of age. We will be touched by their passing and we will recognize that we, the living, go on.
They young baby cooing crib is another child, alive and vigorous ... life goes on.
The brilliance of the poem is conveyed by the economy of words; leaving it to the reader to examine the mystery and resolve the meaning of the events for ourselves and the coincidence of the four year old in a box one for every year seems to reach out to the truth of life as it is not only for this child or Heaney\'s family but for we, humans. Our lives are marked in years ...
a guest

| Posted on 2012-03-09 | by a guest


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In my opinion i don\'t really like this poem cause it\'s sad and i don\'t really like writting essays on poems.

| Posted on 2012-01-22 | by a guest


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the wrighter shows no emotion in the poem wich makes the other caracters iluminate with there own expressions until the last line , left out of a stanza shows his feeling in a different way to others.

great poem.

| Posted on 2011-12-14 | by a guest


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The poem does indeed appear to be very clinical, which makes it so much more emotive. He\'s confused and unable to process this loss. There are too many strange things occurring (Dad crying, men shaking his hand etc)and all these events make him fall into a very observatory state. It reflect how many people deal with death, which is incredibly difficult for most to deal with and this is just a reflection to a response that death triggers.
It is a very good, emotive and sad poem.

| Posted on 2011-11-28 | by a guest


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In this poem the narrator ( the boy ) does not show any emotions.
\"At ten o\'clock the ambulance arrived\"
These words look like a reporting.
Maybe he\'s shocked and he could not do or understand anything that goes around. Maybe he\'s too sad so that he lost his consciousness. He must have feel as it is a dream.
-Ifham Pain-

| Posted on 2011-11-02 | by a guest


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I believe that the use of clinical language, rather than making it seem as though there is less emotion, for me made it seem as though there is more. It is as if he has gone into numb state of mind, and that he is just so full of emotion that all he can do is stand by and watch. It is as if he has almost gone into a coma, and all he can do is observe; he just can\'t cope with the emotion of the death right now, he can only bear to write about it as though he is just a bystander on the street, watching as the \"corpse\" is attended to. As if there are floodgates in his mind, trapping all the heavy emotions behind them so all he can feel is numbness, because the floodgates are not yet ready to open for fear that the emotion will take over.
Heaney is only a child when his little brother dies, and has probably not experienced such a personal, or such a surprising and sudden death of a child. The technique of the clinical language is effective because it almost manipulates the audience by resisting being sentimental or very emotional. In a way, it feels like Heaney shows more emotion when he is using clinical language, because of the deadness he must feel inside of him after the death of his little brother, and thus the use of the stilted language, makes the audience feel empathy towards his young self for the reason that the audience feels like he is not able to handle the death.

| Posted on 2011-10-29 | by a guest


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Some interesting comments here. Seriously, pure internet gold, but in all honesty I\'m deeply sorry for the death of your hamster Midge.
This poem seems to recount Heaney\'s memories of a younger siblings death, and his slight confusion regarding the emotional turmoil and unusual behavior of the adults around him. The poems tone of voice doesn\'t seem to be really grieving,the whole aftermath of the death is instead recounted somewhat factually, like a normal diary entry with the inclusion of unemotive statements such as\'At 2oclock the neighbours drove me home\' and \'At 10\'oclock the ambulance arrived\'.
Not really analyzing in serious depth here but, I personally feel there is a level of neutrality in this poem regarding the death. It implies if Heaney barley knew his baby brother, so his death, despite how horrific the loss is, meant less to him.
However, the fact her recounts all the events of the day with such clarity implies the event is bitterly imprinted in his memory.
I\'m a bit confused as to why we get the line \'The baby cooed and laughed and rocked the pram\' if its supposed to be regarding the childs death, i\'m assuming this is like a flashback or some sort?

| Posted on 2011-10-25 | by a guest


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@I thought the child was killed by a bus. The bruise is on his temple and there are no other scars.
The fact that he was hit by the bumper disproves your theory. Unless buses have bumpers four-foot high. This shows that the child got the bruise not from collision with car, but from the ground. So just because he has bruise on his head does not prove he was hit by a bus.
Though I amend you for the insight.

| Posted on 2011-10-24 | by a guest


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I dun really understand this poem at first till my friend tell me that she search in google for this and understand better.

| Posted on 2011-09-30 | by a guest


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the poem has such a powerful effect because the emotions are so understated. Heaney describes only what he sees, not commentary. His emotions are restrained.
The last line is delibaretly isolated to emphasise the tragedy of the boy\'s death, which ends the poem on a bitter sweet note.

| Posted on 2011-05-23 | by a guest


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Interes ting ly e nough , I believe this poem is about the moon. there are sublte references to her tears being like stars in the night sky. all in all a very i nt erse t ing po em

| Posted on 2011-05-08 | by a guest


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I AM TWELVE AND WHAT IS THIS
this reminds me of the daeth of my hamster midge, it is defiantly about death and is sad and tuching
please credit me if u use this in ur analisis

| Posted on 2011-05-08 | by a guest


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Remember that the poet and the speaker of the poem are 2 seperate entities. Just because Seamus Heaney\'s brother died at the age of 3 1/2 (according to his statement in an intervivew) does not mean this poem details the events surrounding the accident.

| Posted on 2011-04-20 | by a guest


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The poppy bruise on the left temple is asociated with blood, sypathy and the dead.

| Posted on 2011-03-22 | by a guest


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This poem contains 3 lines per stanza, which really makes the last line stand out and show how important it is. There is no rhythm or rhymes in this poem except for the last line of the seventh stanza and the last line on its own. \"No gaudy scars, the bumper knocked him clear\" and \"A four foot box, a foot for every year\". Heaney uses this structure to emphasise how important the last line is.

| Posted on 2011-03-08 | by a guest


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Scott Patrick McCusker
I am going to do a critical essay on the poem Mid-term break. This poem is about a young Seamus Heaney being brought back from boarding school because a car has killed his younger brother. In this poem Heaney describes the events surrounding the day that his brother was killed, he explores the distress, destruction and devastation death creates, especially on family.
The initial response that I got from the title of the poem is that the poem would be a joyful one, when I think of a mid-term break, I think of going out with friends, having no school and being happy, but the titles true meaning is a break in life or a break of bones (meaning the car broke Heaney’s little brothers bones). In stanza 1 we read ‘I sat all morning in the college sick bay counting bells knelling to a close,’ the word knelling suggests death or a funeral because knelling is the noise bells make at a funeral. The next part of the stanza tells us that something must be wrong ‘At two o’clock my neighbours drove me home’ which tells that Heaney’s parents are busy and that they urgently need him home for some reason and that his school must be far away from home, this means that something must be seriously wrong.
In the second stanza the writer tells us ‘in the porch I met my father crying - he had always taken funerals in his stride’ this tells us that there has been a death and although the writer shows no emotion, he expresses it through the people around him, in this case his father he does this to “show not tell”. This quote shows us Heaney’s father had always taken funerals in his stride, which means this funeral is different in some way this person who has died is obviously blood related and very close to his father. In the last part of the stanza it says ‘And big Jim Evans saying it was a hard blow.’ This is ambiguous as it could be an emotional blow on Heaney’s family, which is metaphorical, or a physical blow on Heaney’s brother when the car hit him, which is literal.
The third stanza starts off ‘the baby cooed and laughed and rocked the pram when I came in’ this shows a contrast in emotion between the people and the baby showing how innocent children are, which emphasises the innocence of the writers brother later in the poem. This makes the writer annoyed that a baby is laughing in this situation and at that age he didn’t understand why the baby was laughing. The writer then goes on to tells us ‘and I was embarrassed by old men standing up to shake my hand’ (carries on into stanza four) ‘and tell me they were “sorry for my trouble”. This shows us the writer was embarrassed because he wasn’t used to being treated like an adult, when he is told by the old men that they were sorry for his trouble, this tells us that someone had said it to him and he is remembering it.
Carrying on stanza four the writer says ‘whispers informed strangers I was the eldest, away at school, as my mother held my hand’ the word ‘away’ has a prominent position at the start of the sentence, this emphasises the guilt the writer feels, as he hasn’t seen his brother for about six weeks. The tone of voice, a whisper shows that people are trying to inform strangers without causing offence in any way towards the family, but these strangers may not be unknown to Heaney as there is a sea of faces and he may be confused with emotion. The writer shows that his mother is trying to hold on to her son, she could be feeling guilty for not holding on to her younger son, this also tells us that she will learn from this and she wont make the same mistake again.
Stanza five reveals the mystery and emotion that isn’t clear during the start of the poem ‘as my mother hand in hers and coughed out angry tearless sighs’ this illustrates to us that she is trying to hold back her tears and she isn’t grieving. She is angry that she didn’t or couldn’t do anything to save him and that she didn’t take more care of him.
‘At ten o’clock the ambulance arrived with the corpse stanched and bandaged by the nurses’ this quote comes at the end of the stanza and tells us a lot about how Seamus Heaney feels towards his brothers body, Heaney calls his brother a corpse, this shows that he feels as though it is not his brother any more and that the body doesn’t remind him of his brother because it isn’t full of movement and he doesn’t want it to be his brother so he treats it as a stranger.
‘Next morning I went up into the room.’ This is a change of time, which may make the reader feel as though emotions of the writer may have changed as he has had time to think. ‘Snowdrops and candles soothed the bedside; I saw him for the first time in six weeks. Paler now.’
Snowdrops could be a symbol for the weather or time of year. The candles could be for religious reason but my thoughts are that Heaney wanted to create mood and atmosphere using candlelight, as a gloomy and spiritual atmosphere. Candles soothing the bedside are an effective use of personification because it makes you feel as though the candlelight isn’t sinister in anyway and that is peaceful. Heaney talks about his brother as being ‘paler now’ this is Heaney’s expression of guilt that he feels.
In the last stanza Seamus Heaney illustrates to us his final words to his brother, the last time he sees him he displays pure emotion that is a contrast to most of the poem where he shows no emotion.
‘Wearing a poppy bruise on his left temple, he lay in the four foot box as in a cot. No gaudy scars the bumper knocked him clear’ the poppy bruise may be a symbol for needless death, or the size, shape and colour of the bruise.
No gaudy scars, is to show that at his age he did not understand how such a small bruise could have killed him, if the body had scars and mutilated body parts he would understand his death more, which would have probably left Seamus Heaney wondering about it most of his childhood. The final words of the poem ‘a four foot box, a foot for every year.’ This is a simple yet emotionally crippling sentence, which will leave the writer close to tears; the amazement that the writer portrays this statement through a child makes you think of what children think of in such a situation like death, the sentence is short which emphasises it.
To conclude my critical essay, this poem is a wonderful piece that has been enjoyed for many years. The writer shows emotion and thought with such technique that the reader can almost visualise the events that happened. This is a perfect example of a sad poem that I have read in English.

| Posted on 2011-02-20 | by a guest


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first of all the poem conveys different peoples attitude to the poet\'s dead brother.
The title mid term break when seen would make the reader assume that the poem is happy one, but this break depicts an end to the happiness of the poet\'s family since they have just lost a beloved one. Mid-term clearly reflects his brothers unaccomplished missions on earth since he died relatively young and innocent(snowdrops). The poem explains how hard it is for strong men to even cope with the death of their relative. With reference to the poets dad, he had always taken funerals on his stride, but this time round, he\'s in tears ( a hard blow) . Children normally are less-concerned about what happens in the family, they dont even notice what\'s going on in the family. Everyday is same for them. Her mother finds it hard to accept the fact that her son is death. It\'s rather a shock for her. she coughs and she\'s angry. His brother was just 4 years old ! (four foot box, a foot for every year)

| Posted on 2011-01-08 | by a guest


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first of all the poem conveys different peoples attitude to the poet\'s dead brother.
The title mid term break when seen would make the reader assume that the poem is happy one, but this break depicts an end to the happiness of the poet\'s family since they have just lost a beloved one. Mid-term clearly reflects his brothers unaccomplished missions on earth since he died relatively young and innocent(snowdrops). The poem explains how hard it is for strong men to even cope with the death of their relative. With reference to the poets dad, he had always taken funerals on his stride, but this time round, he\'s in tears ( a hard blow) . Children normally are less-concerned about what happens in the family, they dont even notice what\'s going on in the family. Everyday is same for them. Her mother finds it hard to accept the fact that her son is death. It\'s rather a shock for her. she coughs and she\'s angry. His brother was just 4 years old ! (four foot box, a foot for every year)

| Posted on 2011-01-08 | by a guest


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In this poem it depict what kind of a devastation death means,the most difficult matter one to bare ,it is unpredictable and that is the most gravity of death.Heany
portrays this immortal truth by the aid of the unexpected incident which he tolerated in the day of his infant brothers untimely death also by using \"I met my father crying\" evident the hardness of a loss of a beloved one.
Heany has symbolized this by the way the father,mother reacts not only that but also the way people react.

| Posted on 2010-12-21 | by a guest


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Seamus Heaney wrote “Mid-Term Break” to explain the events that proceeded his little brother’s car accident. Sympathetic friends of family greeted him upon his arrival awaiting the delivery of his brother by the ambulance. The ironic title is misleading in the way it contrasts with typical ecstatic emotions expressed by students. The situation itself is ironic considering the funeral meant for his little brother is full of old men. In the morning, the “snowdrops” and lack of “gaudy scars” help symbolize the innocent death of his brother. It is notable that poppy, a flower symbol for death and sleep, is used to describe his brother’s bruise. The last line finally reveals the victim of this poem, if one did not already know, which is his four-year-old brother. The fact that the age was indirectly stated by the measurement of the box is likened to the measurement of a tree by its rings, one for every year. This comparison shows the ironic innocence of the situation further, since so many older than him get the privilege to live, but the boy has to die young.

| Posted on 2010-12-13 | by a guest


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In Heaney’s poem “Mid-Term Break” we immediately remember the holiday breaks but in fact it contrast our ideas of what we think the poem will be about . In this poem we read about the loss of his Heaney’s little brother who has passed away young. In the first stanza Heaney uses clear imagery to describe the emotional day he found out his brother had passed. “I sat all morning in the college sick bay/..knelling classes to a close”. From this very first line we instantly get a sense that Heaney isn’t feeling too well as he was hanging out in the college sick bay waiting for the bell to ring. We sense sadness in his tone by the way he has expressed himself. “In the porch I met my father crying-/He had always taken funerals in his stride” This next image we receive here in the second stanza describes his father and what he saw when he arrived home. From this image given we sense that what has happened is terrible as Heaney says “he had always taken funerals in his stride”. This shows that his father has always been a strong man and for him to cry was rare. Showing that what has happened must be very sad for his father to break down in tears.
sorry i cant carry on. hehe too much to say xx i\'m from the u.s and gta analyse this poem for exams this friday. Thanks a bunch peeps

| Posted on 2010-11-14 | by a guest




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