How does grief affect those family members and friends close to us? In Mid-Term Break Seamus Heaney takes the reader right into the bosom of the family and provides first hand observations of people present at home, following the death of his young brother.
Interestingly, we don't know if this is a brother or not. It is a male but the speaker informs us only of the 'corpse' which is delivered by ambulance.
From the start, there is a suggestion that something isn't quite right. The speaker has to sit in a sick bay with little to do but listen to the ominous sound of bells - foretelling of doom? The word knelling implies that the occasion is solemn.
This is a little bit morbid, a touch ironic, because the title tells of a break, a holiday away from responsibility and formality. When we are told the neighbours, and not family, are the ones taking him home the intrigue deepens.
Atmosphere and tension are building by the second stanza as we learn of the father, the patriarch, being reduced to tears, and a family friend, Big Jim Evans, affirming the difficulty of the occasion. Tough men are showing emotion which is something the speaker isn't used to.
Heaney softens the mood slightly by introducing us to a baby in the third stanza but this is countered when old men offer their hands to shake. Again, you can picture the speaker, the eldest son, trying to take it all in as 'sorry for your trouble' repeatedly hits home.
The eldest son is going through a rite of passage, in a sense this profoundly sad death in the family is forcing him to grow up and he's finding it understandably hard.
Analysis of "Mid-Term Break" by Seamus Heaney Essay
640 WordsMar 22nd, 20113 Pages
“Mid-Term Break”, by Seamus Heaney, is a free-verse poem that portrays the event in which the speaker, who came back from boarding school, deals with the loss of a younger brother.
In this poem there are several important themes such as time, age, family, pain, love and most of all death. Death is an awkward subject that most want to avoid in life but it is also one that dominates people lives the most. We live because we don’t want to die. However there are times when unexpected death occurs, and in those times it’s the victim’s family that suffers the most. This poem takes the audience along on the speaker’s journey to accepting his beloved little brother’s death. Though family, age and love seems to be opposites…show more content…
As well as the choice of addressing the dead brother as “the corpse” adds aloofness to the first section of the poem until after “Next morning” after which the author uses “him” to show that the speaker has finally come to realization. Also the word “soothed” brings a certain warm feeling to the poem. However this word is by words that are associated with mourning, death or illness such as “bedside”, “candles” and “Snowdrops” These choices of words bring the audience on a emotional rollercoaster.
Moreover, the author’s choice of words once more highlighted the last line. Heaney used alliteration, assonance and repetition to add further emphasis on the “four foot box” Which suggests how important this line is to the core of the poem.
Though the poem have a certain bitterness to it, the words and their connotation adds a sweet feeling of love and awkwardness making the audience feel bashful yet showered with bitter sweet icy warmth. This seems to be how the speaker feels during this series of event and therefore the poem makes the audience live through the experience rather than just reading or hearing it. The audience live through the stages of accepting death and experiences all the emotional impact, from detachment to acceptance, which comes along with them. Therefore, the author’s choices of language and literary devices are very appropriate and served their purpose,