Death and Grief in Mid-Term Break

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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“I was embarrassed by the old men standing to shake my hand.” There is also an ongoing contrast between the young and old; life and death.

 

The structure of the poem is a blank/free verse, therefore the poem tells a story without rhyme, rhythm. This  style suits the poem, as it has a somber mood, with a delicate touch of silence. Each stanzar says enough, in asimple text, and reveals much of the story; a reflection of life and death.

 

The style and language are both simple, yet distinct and therefore this helps to reveal the theme. The simplicity of the poem’s content is what makes it so descriptive. Innocence is within the poem… a childlike sense of death. With the unembellished language, such as phrases like “Next morning I went into the room,” get to the point and are absolute in its meaning.

 

The style of the poem  uses a great amount of visual images, which are both detailed and stylistic, “Snow-drops and candles soothed the bedside,” contribute to the mood of the poem, the style, and most of all, the audiences perception and view. Onomatopoeia such as “cooed,” “whispers,” “coughed,” and “knocked” are  used to express emotion within the poem. Heaney allows the reader to seem unlike a passive observer, but rather, a participant in his work. The use of onomatopoeia gives the poem a distinct and definate sound. The poem can basically be hear as well as read.

 

At the end of the poem the boy expresses death’s finality, “A four foot box, a foot for every year.” This is a hauntingly, beautiful poem, in which Seamus Heaney articulates the past with his poetry  and relates it to us, today, in the present.

 
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