The Death of a Loved One

825 Words4 Pages
“On My First Son”, by Ben Jonson, and “Mid-Term Break”, by Seamus Heaney, both touch the topic of death in their poems. The way they handle the topic, however, is quite different because of their point of views. Through their structures, rhyme schemes, and literary devices, we can see that Heaney views death as confusing and awkward, whereas Jonson sees death as devastating, leading to anguish and heartache. “On My First Son” has 12 lines and is written in only one stanza, showing how short and condensed the child’s life was. Jonson uses 10 or 11 syllables each line and employs Iambic pentameter throughout the poem, except for one line: “Seven years thou wert lent to me, and I thee pay,” (line 3). This is used to emphasize the line using salience; we see something is not right. This is where he mentions the death more explicitly as we know his son is no longer with him and that Jonson has given him back to God. Instead of just feeling grief, the speaker’s reaction is much deeper; he is questioning his religion and relationship with God, the one who took his son away from him. His reaction is more profound and agonizing than the speaker in “Mid-Term Break”. Where “On My First Son” is consistent, with one short block of text, “Mid-Term Break” has 22 lines and is written in couplets except for the last line, which stands alone. This structure shows the process of grieving the speaker went through, as opposed to the inner turmoil Jonson speaks of. The speaker in “Mid-Term Break” is a confused teenager who doesn’t know how to react and therefore the thinking process is longer than that of Jonson’s; he is not questioning life the way Jonson does, instead he is in confusion. This is also shown in the number of syllables and the meter, w... ... middle of paper ... ...nclusion, “Mid-Term Break” and “On My First Son” both address the reaction from the death of a loved one. However, because of their contrasting point of views, these reactions diverge greatly, shown through their structures, rhymes and word choices. The way a father reacts to the death of his son varies greatly from how a teenager would react from the death of his younger brother. Jonson and Heaney did an excellent job in portraying these dissimilar responses and they both succeed in convincing the reader of the genuineness of the speaker. Works Cited "embarrassed, adj.". OED Online. December 2013. Oxford University Press. 5 February 2014 . "lament, v.". OED Online. December 2013. Oxford University Press. 5 February 2014 .
Open Document