and Death Be Not Proud by John Donne.
The first poem I am going to study is a poem by Seamus Heaney called
Seamus Heaney was born in County Derry into a farming background. He
attended St. Columb’s College in Derry where he was a border. Heaney
went on to win the Nobel Prize for Literature.
The poet’s title Mid-Term Break is somewhat ambiguous as it would
suggest a holiday of some sort, whereas, the poem is actually about
the death of Heaney’s young brother who was killed in a tragic
The thoughts of death are brought to the fore almost immediately as
the poem begins with a funeral note in line two:
‘…counting bells knelling classes to a close.’
The word ‘knelling’ reminds the poet of the church bells tolling for a
In the second stanza we are aware that the tragedy which has occurred
is different as funerals usually did not disturb his father in the way
that this one had.
Heaney recalls the embarrassment he felt when the adults sympathised
with him and paid his deference saying ‘they were sorry for my
trouble.’ This seemed to perplex him as it was a reversal of roles.
There is a sense of alienation in the forth stanza when he heard the
whispers of the neighbours, apart from his mother’s hand in his. His
mother seems to be trying to control her emotions but is clearly
outraged by what has happened.
When Heaney’s brother is returned home, the poet refers to his brother
as a ‘corpse’. This seems to suggest that Heaney is emotionally
detached but it could just be a case of denial.
Heaney injects a note of tranquillity to the poem when he describes
the ‘snowdrops’ and ‘candles’. ...
... middle of paper ...
... hand, deals with the mystery and fear that sounds
death. Although we will all have to die eventually it is still
something that scares us but Donne tries to alleviate those fears by
telling us that death is just another part of life that will lead us
Heaney seemed to be emotionally detached throughout his poem until the
final line whereas Donne was very passionate about his feeling from
When I first read both poems I was drawn instantly towards Mid-Term
Break only because of the simplicity of the language. However, after
carefully studying both poems my preference now lies with Death Be Not
Proud. It is an interesting poem that expresses the act of dying as
something natural and pleasant; abandoning the reputation it has for
being frightening or powerful. It expresses that death is not the end
of life, but only the beginning.
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