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Mid-term Break – notes and analysis

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❶From the start, there is a suggestion that something isn't quite right.

No gaudy scars, the bumper knocked him clear

Seamus Heaney
Mid-Term Break Lyrics
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The rhythm and alliteration also reinforce the mournful tone. The poet is driven home by his neighbours and not his parents, another unusual event preparing the reader for the idea that something is terribly wrong. Remembering the title of the poem, we might be tempted to hope, along with the Heaney family that this event is some terrible nightmare that might be woken up from. Heaney conveys the feeling of being unable to name the reality of the situation:. He does not go on to say that this is where his little brother is lying dead.

The snowdrops and candles are symbolic of life but they are also ritualistically funereal. Another flower image draws attention to the apparently insignificant injury that had such a devastating effect, as well as the fragility of life with which the poppy is traditionally associated:.

No gaudy scars, the bumper knocked him clear. A four foot box, a foot for every year. The description here becomes almost unbearably powerful because of the restraint Heaney exercises. The young boy could easily be asleep but, tragically, it is only as if he were asleep. Heaney was terribly homesick, and yet he was stuck there term after term, with classes six days a week, and with the chance to go into Derry one Saturday in three.

At Christmastime or for summer holidays, Heaney might go back home, go fishing with his father, try to learn the crafts of the farm, or attend Irish classes in Donegal, but otherwise had nothing to look forward to other than schoolwork. Reading a story or poem about death is usually gloomy and overtly predictable. However, Heaney inverts this mundanity to deliver a poem that is initially shrouded in mystery.

However, Heaney uses a number of conceits to build a feeling of unease in the reader, a feeling that grows and escalates with each stanza of the poem, until we are told, in the fifth stanza, that there is a corpse, borne to the house by an ambulance. Looking at the title again after an initial reading of the poem, we understand the cruel irony in the words. Not only has the poet had an unexpected break in his stay at boarding school, but this break is due to that fact that his brother is dead: The opening stanza is set in the boarding school, with a young boy the poet waiting in sick bay.

This feeling of apprehension and fearful expectancy is intensified with the second line of the opening stanza: Notice how Heaney uses alliteration to emphasise the funereal sound of the tolling bells and the feeling of time dragging.

This is a powerful indication of time passing and conjures an image of a boy using the school bell to tell what time it is, to try to guess how long he has been waiting. The feelings of anxiety and unease are perpetuated, however, by the fact that we have yet to be told what has happened, and why the boy is being taken home. The confined space of the porch suggests a feeling of claustrophobia, as the young poet enters a house unexpectedly crowded with people, and an ambience filled with their feelings of grief and sorrow.

It is a further indication to the reader that a frightful event has occurred, a suggestion of a tragedy that is still away in the distance and that we can not yet see clearly, although we sense that it is there.

The reader enters the house with the poet, and the feelings of shock and slow, final realisation come over both reader and poet simultaneously. However, we later learn that Christopher was, ironically, dealt a fatal blow by a speeding car. It is as if the poet is in shock: He notices that the baby, too young to comprehend what is happening, is cooing happily and rocking in its pram.

The contented sounds of the baby, a new life, act as a jolting counterpoint to the grief-stricken silence in the room. The boy clearly feels uncomfortable with the atmosphere of stiff, mournful formality and the attention he receives: The fourth stanza begins with another platitude used by the old men to express their condolences: This expression is strangely unfeeling and detached. No gaudy scars, the bumper knocked him clear.

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Seamus Heaney and Mid-Term Break

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Mid-Term Break By Seamus Heaney About this Poet Seamus Heaney is widely recognized as one of the major poets of the 20th century. A native of Northern Ireland, Heaney was raised in County Derry, and later lived for many years in Dublin. He was the author of over 20 volumes of poetry and.

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The early poem Mid-Term Break was written by Heaney following the death of his young brother, killed when a car hit him in It is a poem that grows in stature, finally ending in an unforgettable single line image.

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Mid-Term Break by Seamus Heaney..I sat all morning in the college sick bay Counting bells knelling classes to a close. At two oclock our neighbors drove me home. In the porch I /5(8). Mid-Term Break by Seamus Heaney - I sat all morning in the college sick bay Counting bells knelling classes to a close. At two o'clock our neighbors dro.

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About “Mid-Term Break” Heaney’s poem about a death in the family is based on the actual death of the poet’s younger brother, Christopher, at the age of four. The “break” in “Mid-Term Break” implies not only a gap in a school semester but also a “break” from the speaker’s previous life, a loss of innocence and coming-of-age in respect of his . The work consists of 34 short poems and is largely concerned with childhood experiences and the formulation of adult identities, family relationships, and rural life. The collection begins with one of Heaney's best-known poems, "Digging", and includes the acclaimed "Death of a Naturalist" and "Mid-Term Break".