Common Themes in Poetry Essay

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Common Themes in Poetry

After reading and analysing numerous poems, I have chosen two examples
of the famous Irish Poet, Seamus Heaney's work: 'Follower' and
'Mid-Term Break'. Both poems relate to the poet's past, and are
certainly associated with a specific 'loss' of a loved one - one a
literal loss, and the other a subconscious loss.

'Mid-Term Break', which I found to be a very touching and poignant
poem, describes the loss of the poet's younger brother, Christopher
when Heaney was a child, hence the poem is of a childhood tragedy as
well as a loss. It's set in three places - the introduction is
situated in the college sick bay; the main body of the poem is set in
Heaney's brother's funeral, and the final setting is the small child's
bedroom. The poet is awaiting his neighbours' car in the college sick
bay, as they're going to escort him to the funeral. Evidence is given
of 'death' in the second line: -

"Counting bells knelling classes to a close"

This metaphorical sentence creates a morbid atmosphere from the
out-set, and the alliteration and hard consonants suggest that the
'wait' for his neighbours' car is excruciatingly long and daunting
which underlines two things - childhood impatience and the fact that
something is troubling him. 'Change' is sensed here also due to the
fact that his neighbours are driving him home - as we know, the
negative change is Christopher's death. Within the aspect of 'change',
this is merely the 'tip of the iceberg', as many more unfamiliar
experiences await him.

The 'child's prospective' is cleverly brought into the second, third,
fourth and fifth stanzas as a consequence of the poet's confusion and
the contradictive scenes he witnesses as he walks into the fa...

... middle of paper ...

...Seamus Heaney's childhood' is a fair
summary of 'Mid-Term Break' and 'Follower', both linked to a specific
loss - one, the death of the poet's four year old brother in a road
accident; the other, the loss of the poet's father to old age. Both
poems show the poet's use of transforming a situation from bad to
good: in 'Mid-Term Break', 'the room' is not a deathly enclosure with
a 'corpse' within, but a scene of tranquillity soothed by candles,
with a little boy 'wearing a poppy bruise on his left temple'
peacefully travelling to Heaven; in 'Follower', the setting is not a
boring day in the fields ploughing, it's a small boy's idolisation of
his father and attempt to follow in his footsteps. Whatever
differences exist between both poems, the message is one:

Losing is one of the hardest things a human being can witness,
but we all have to lose in the end.

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