When Dealing With Death And Grief

691 words - 3 pages

Mid-term Break

A poem that deals with death and grief is “Mid-term Break” by Seamus Heaney. The poem describes a boy who is brought home from school to attend the funeral of his younger brother who was tragically knocked down by a car. Heaney uses emotive language to emphasise the boy’s reaction to this event.

At the start of the poem Heaney gives the reader an idea that something is not right.
“I sat all morning in the college sickbay” this suggests that the boy has been called out of class and has been waiting to be picked up. To show that the boy was there for a long time he was “counting bells knelling” the word “knelling” is used to describe funeral bells. This is an effective metaphor as the bells sound like funeral bells to the boy which implies that someone has died. The boy was not picked up by his parents, “our neighbours drove us home” this adds to the notion that ...view middle of the document...

The reader knows that the father is used to attending funerals by the phrase “he has always taken funerals in his strife”. This also gives the reader an idea that the person that has died is very close to the boy and his family. The baby’s actions at the funeral are contrasting everyone else’s, “the baby cooed and laughed”. Almost as if it were laughing at the adult’s grief. When the men treat the boy as if he were and adult by “standing up to shake my hand” the boy feels uncomfortable and embarrassed.
The poet witnesses the people around him acting differently, especially his father, which must seem strange to him.

In the last stanzas Heaney creates a calm mood by using strong and emotional language which gives the reader a peaceful image of the dead boy.
The phrase “starched and bandaged” suggests that there was an attempt to stop the bleeding. “Snowdrops and candles soothed” snowdrops represent peace which suggests that the boy is resting in peace. Candles bring a calm mood to the scene, contrasting what they are placed next to. The boy was “wearing a poppy bruise”. Poppies symbolise remembrance the poet is conveying that this event will stay in his memory for a long time.
The peaceful mood that Heaney sets shows that the deceased boy is sleeping in peace unaware of the sorrow he has left his family in.

The last two lines of the poem are when the poet finally reveals to the reader what exactly has happened.
“The bumper knocked him clear” we now know that the young boy has been involved in a car accident. “A four foot box, a foot for every year” the poet only now exposes his brother’s age to the reader. Heaney uses alliteration effectively, the sharp sound of the letter “f” emphasises the shortness of the boys life and the short second that he was knocked down.
This leaves the reader to think about death and makes them pity the poet and his brother.

Heaney creates a moving poem that expresses the finality of death and the grief that relatives deal with after. He uses effective imagery which creates a sad and gloomy atmosphere. The abrupt last line shakes the reader’s emotions ending the poem with a sad tone.

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