Mid Term Break by Seumas Heaney
The title of the poem is deliberately deceptive because the phrase
'Mid Term Break' suggests a term-time holiday, which is normally a
happy occasion. In reality, the meaning of the title is considerably
less cheerful as, later in the poem, we learn that Heaney's younger
brother has died. Therefore, the word 'break' in the title refers to a
break in the family.
In the first stanza, we are immediately aware that there is tragedy
underlying the poem. The phrase "Counting bells knelling classes to a
close" signifies that there has perhaps been a death; bells 'knelling'
are often linked to funeral processions. Heaney has also used
alliteration in this line, which helps us to stir up some of the
unhappiness. Long vowel sounds such as ou, ell, ass, ose and 's' are
used to reflect the sound of bells, which give this stanza a slow,
pounding rhythm. Again, this could be to signify the somberness of the
Our suspicions of a death are confirmed in the second stanza, when the
narrator describes his father as having "always taken funerals in
their stride." In this instance though, the father's tears indicate
the passing of someone incredibly close to him - immediate family. The
third line, "Big Jim Evans saying it was a hard blow," tells us that
the death is a particularly tragic one, and one that will be difficult
to come to terms with.
We learn in stanza three that the narrator has a younger sibling and
how his or her reactions are in such stark contrast to the solemn
reality of the scene. "The baby cooed and laughed and rocked the
pram." In this line, we notice that there are no commas. Thi...
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middle-aged. The poem makes you want to treasure every day as it could
be your last. It also leads you to think of your life and how much you
value it very seriously, as it tells of a loss which was so unexpected
I really enjoyed reading this poem and studying the techniques Heaney
uses to make this poem so very moving. It is a deeply emotional poem
and I felt moved reading it. Heaney abstains from using dialogue, and
this sums up the typical situation perfectly. When people are hit by
something so sad and unexpected, they are struck dumb in their grief.
I feel that Heaney has made a truly exceptional job of making this
such a moving poem and showing very accurately the way people deal
with unforeseen tragedy. I found this poem fascinating to read and
would certainly recommend this poem to anyone.