Mid-Term Break is a depressing poem because it’s about the death of a child; the poets brother. Heaney emphasises the sadness of the occasion by describing the coffin surrounded with snowdrops and candles , which he says “soothe the bedside”. The fact that he hasn’t seen his brother for six weeks makes it seem somehow worse. The response of the rest of his family also highlights how sad it is: his father crying must have been such a shock to Heaney, we don’t expect grown men to cry and Heaney emphasises that he normally expects his father to cope. The fact that his mother is ‘coughing out angry tearless sighs’ suggest that she is trying to hold in the grief and emotion. He describes his brothers wound as a ‘poppy’ This is an effective metaphor because it suggests the colour and shape of the bruise but it also has echoes of remembrance day and all the pointless loss of young life in war – poppies are symbols of remembrance. Heaney leaves the final line to deliver the biggest shock
“A four foot box, a foot for every year”
as a reader you finally reaslise how old his brother was and it makes it even more depressing because he was such a young child. The fact that this line is separate makes it stand out and the single syllables and alliteration make the whole thing sink in very quickly due to the simplicity. On My First Sonne by Ben Jonson is depressing in a similar way because it also deals with the death of a child but Jonson’s poem is different to Heaney’s because it’s from the point of view of the father rather than the brother. Jonson also shows a lot more emotion about it all, he says “O, could I lose all father now.” What he means here is that he may have lost his son but the feelings of being a father haven’t gone away; he wishes they would so he doesn’t feel the pain of grief; the fact that he writes “O” at the beginning of the line shows us it’s full of feeling. Heaney doesn’t really seem to describe his feelings, apart from his...
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