Heaney uses imagery, language and dialogue to provoke the reader’s emotion and only till the end of the poem do we understand that a small child had died. There is a build-up of detail and the stanzas seek to show the steps of what had happened. Heaney orchestrates the poem very well so it builds up to great intensity and we feel very moved by the end of the poem.
Heaney hints at the very start of a death that had happened but only revealed it till the very end. He portrays the speaker’s experience of confronting his little brother’s death. The poem has a story effect and flows similar to a narrative since it is written in first person and continuously describes the setting of the funeral, which makes it ever so moving for the reader. The use of the word ‘knelling’ is associated with when people die. This suggests that even though the boy was at school, he did not see it coming. Therefore Heaney could have chosen that word to show what was to happen, but used it in such a normal environment that if you were to read it for the first time you would not realise the meaning behind it. However, taken this analysis, it could be seen in a completely different way. In Heaney’s opening stanza, it shows him as a child, waiting at the schools sick bay to go home. There is almost a sense of boredom as he counts the bells waiting for class to end. This suggests his age as it’s as if he doesn’t really understand what is going on and would rather be in class. Therefore ‘Mid-term break’ is seen as moving because we know the boy in the poem is young and we see that something tragic is to come. It highlights how a young boy would take a younger sibling’s death and the certain word choices really serve to underline that the death was ominous.
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