Death and Grief in Mid-Term Break

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In the poem Mid-Term Break by Seamus Heaney, the ideas of death, trauma, grief and finality are explored. The poem itself is as haunting as it is brilliantly executed. The poem depicts a boy arriving home from boarding school, to where he is informed of the tragic death of his younger brother, whose doomed fate indelibly marks the narrator, whom is the boy’s older brother. The boy recounts the experience of losing a loved one. The author has incorporated many elements and style in a subtle and distinct manner. The poem depicts a boy arriving home from school, “moaning in the college sick bay” to hear the news that his four year old brother has been killed in an accident. Upon arriving home, “I met my father crying.” This shows how death can cause much grief and trauma, as well as confusion. Here we can see that the stereotypical roles of the parents have been reversed/exchanged, with the father crying, and the boy’s mother, “Coughed out angry, tearless sighs.” It can be seen/evident, that deaths were quite common, “He had always taken funerals in his stride.” But no-one expected the death to hit quite so close to home… to the heart. And then we see the tables have turned; the parents no longer were the spectators of the funerals, now that their own flesh and blood had been taken away from them. The theme within the poem is subtly expressed, with an almost childlike innocence. The theme is set out in a simple manner, yet pays much attention to detail. The theme is one of “finality.” Hence the title playing a huge role in the revealing of the theme. “Mid-Term Break” suggests finality… of one’s life…. Time. Along with death brings finality, and along with finality comes the repurcussions of death, such as trauma and grief for all involved. The emotions of the poem are beautifully poignant, and this allows the reader to be transported to a world of different experience, such as the repression. The mood within the poem has a somber touch with an eerie silence. The poem positions the reader to come away with mixed emotions- anger, grief, confusion… all of which the topic of death brings with it. This leaves the audience truly captivated with the simple text that represents so much emotion. There are many images depicted in the poem, which is what ultimately draws the audience into it’s graps/ The impenatrable, life-altering consequences of death and the secrets of adolescence bring the poem to life.
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