‘Mid-term Break’ was written in 1966 by Seamus Heaney. This poem is autobiographical as it was written about a real event of Heaney’s life. It is about him and his family grieving from the death of his four year old brother. When the tragedy struck he was only fourteen. This poem focuses on how people reacted to the death. The title of this poem is unusual as a mid-term break is normally thought of as a break off school that has been planned beforehand but in the poem it is unexpected. I feel that Heaney is very honest when he writes about how people reacted to the death of his brother. The poem is set into eight stanzas, the first seven contain three lines and the last only contains one.
The first stanza is set in the sick bay of what we think is his boarding school. Heaney was waiting on his neighbours to pick him up and take him home. We wonder why he was sitting in a sick bay and not at home with his family. Heaney seemed bored of waiting: “I sat all morning… counting bells knelling classes to a close.” This phrase ‘counting bells’ suggests that time was passing by slowly. The word ‘all’ is emphasised as if he is really bored and can’t wait to leave the sick bay. The quote also includes alliteration on the letter ‘l’ showing the long chiming of the bells. The connotations of the word ‘knelling’ are it reminds us of funerals and church bells which also suggest something not so nice has happened. Throughout the stanza we wonder what he is waiting for and why the neighbours are picking him up and not his parents, which suggests that something has happened to them which leaves us with an uneasy feeling.
The second stanza is set outside the family home on the front porch. When Heaney arrives home he meets his father crying which is unusual for him as his father normally took ‘funerals in his stride.’ Heaney also meets ‘Big Jim Evans’ who is suggested to be a family friend or a farm worker. ‘Big Jim Evans’ makes a tactless comment by saying...
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