Mid Term Break by Seamus Heaney

Notes on Mid Term Break by Seamus Heaney

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  • Created on: 18-04-11 16:43
Preview of Mid Term Break by Seamus Heaney

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Mid- Term break
Main Ideas
The poet's younger brother Christopher was killed in a road accident at the age of 4 when
Heaney was away boarding at St. Columbs, a school he won a scholarship to.
This poem tell the story of these events, and his experience
Emotions
Quite emotionless, as if the poet is struggling to face up to what has happened to his
brother, talking more about other people's reactions. Until the last, very emotional, but
simple line.
Structure
Split into 7 equal length stanzas of three lines, showing that he is very held together and at
this point not emotional.
Within the structured stanza pattern there is a lot of enjambment, suggesting that while the
poet is held together on the outside, under the surface he is struggling to cope.
In the last line he breaks out of the pattern with a single line, showing that he has finally
reached the point of being able to face up to his emotions.
Language
All in the past tense, recounting the events that have happened, without giving his own
response to it
Alliterations of "c" in first stanza giving harsh sound, showing the harshness of the events
"counting bells kneeling" connotes to funeral bells, therefore gives mournful sound, before
reader knows what has happened
Father crying, yet had always taken funerals in his stride, shows that this is different, and
crueller than most deaths as the child was so young. Also emphasises how personal this
experience was to them
"A hard blow" has a double meaning, referring both to how hard it was for the family, but
also how the child was killed, being hit by a car. Could suggest that it is almost to the family as
if they have also been hit by a car, and part of them has died
Baby's joy at seeing brother contrasts mourning elsewhere, and iambic pentameter in this
line suggests innocent joy. Emphasises strangeness of situation.
Mother holding hand appears to be comforting him, yet next stanza we see her as the one
who is upset, as if he is comforting her
Exact times show reality of events
Elegiac tone, like an elegy, written to commemorate a dead person, yet events are recalled
with clarity and realism, suggestive of the shock and sudden nature of his death
Candles and snowdrops symbolic of life, yet also funerals
Poppy represents remembrance and fragility of life
Word "cot" shows cruelty, as he should be safely in his cot, yet he is not

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