Skip Nav

Analysis of Poem "Mid-Term Break" by Seamus Heaney

Navigation menu

❶The story is told in a very under-stated way.

Mid-Term Break

Seamus Heaney
Seamus Heaney and Mid-Term Break
No gaudy scars, the bumper knocked him clear

The speaker has to sit in a sick bay with little to do but listen to the ominous sound of bells - foretelling of doom? The word knelling implies that the occasion is solemn. This is a little bit morbid, a touch ironic, because the title tells of a break, a holiday away from responsibility and formality. When we are told the neighbours, and not family, are the ones taking him home the intrigue deepens. Atmosphere and tension are building by the second stanza as we learn of the father, the patriarch, being reduced to tears, and a family friend, Big Jim Evans, affirming the difficulty of the occasion.

Tough men are showing emotion which is something the speaker isn't used to. Heaney softens the mood slightly by introducing us to a baby in the third stanza but this is countered when old men offer their hands to shake.

Again, you can picture the speaker, the eldest son, trying to take it all in as 'sorry for your trouble' repeatedly hits home. The eldest son is going through a rite of passage, in a sense this profoundly sad death in the family is forcing him to grow up and he's finding it understandably hard. It's the mother who takes on some of the grief in the form of anger as the speaker holds her hand in a room of strangers and prepares himself for the arrival of the body 'stanched and bandaged.

Compare the role of father with mother in this respect, at opposite ends of the grieving spectrum. Heaneys use of "corpse" is clinical and a little cold, suggesting that the speaker is too upset to mention the child's name.

The next day however he feels compelled to go upstairs to have one last personal meeting. Snowdrops are the first flowers to show in winter, bursting through the cold earth, sparked by the increasing light. They are a symbol of hope - even in the depths of darkness life prevails. Candles are associated with prayer. The use of the word soothed reflects the healing qualities of the peaceful room where the body lies.

There is the dead child "wearing" a bruise, which implies it's not a part of him, a temporary thing. Poppies are linked to peace and also are a source for opiates which ease pain. Because the car hit the boy directly on the head there are no unsightly scars; the boy reminds the speaker of when he was a baby in his cot.

The last line is full of pathos, the four-foot box measuring out the life of the victim in years. Note the full rhyming couplet which seals up the poem, reminding us of how easy it is to die, from a single blow of a car bumper, but how challenging becomes the grieving process that must inevitably follow.

To comment on this article, you must sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account. Other product and company names shown may be trademarks of their respective owners. HubPages and Hubbers authors may earn revenue on this page based on affiliate relationships and advertisements with partners including Amazon, Google, and others.

To provide a better website experience, owlcation. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so. For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: Mid-Term Break I sat all morning in the college sick bay Counting bells knelling classes to a close.

Analysis A poem with an ambiguous title, Mid-Term Break appears on the page as an orderly set of tercets, finished off with a single line, as if underlining everything that has gone before. The second line is interesting as it contains both alliteration and assonance, plus the combination of the hard c and silent k suggest a confusion of sorts.

Why is the speaker in the sick bay in the first place? Knelling is a word more often associated with church funerals alternatives would have been tolling or peeling or ringing. Stanzas six and seven stand out - the syntax alters in stanza six to meet the contrasting circumstances as the speaker enters the room where the little body lies. He is metaphorically wearing the poppy as a bruise. Note the punctuation and enjambment play a particular role in slowing everything down, carrying us on to the next stanza and that final devastating line.

Further Analysis - Stanzas 1 - 4 How does grief affect those family members and friends close to us? More Analysis Stanzas 5 - 7 It's the mother who takes on some of the grief in the form of anger as the speaker holds her hand in a room of strangers and prepares himself for the arrival of the body 'stanched and bandaged.

This website uses cookies As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. This is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.

This is used to prevent bots and spam. This is used to detect comment spam. This is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. This is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.

This is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. This is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos.

Javascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis. This is feature allows you to search the site. Some articles have Google Maps embedded in them. From "Digging" My grandfather cut more turf in a day Than any other man on Toner's bog.

Once I carried him milk in a bottle Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up To drink it, then fell to right away Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods Over his shoulder, going down and down For the good turf. The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge Through living roots awaken in my head. But I've no spade to follow men like them. Between my finger and my thumb The squat pen rests.

I'll dig with it. During his time in Belfast, he found a copy of Ted Hughes 's Lupercal, which spurred him to write poetry. Hillan describes how McLaverty was like a foster father to the younger Belfast poet. In , Heaney became a lecturer at St Joseph's, and in the spring of , after contributing various articles to local magazines, he came to the attention of Philip Hobsbaum , then an English lecturer at Queen's University. Hobsbaum set up a Belfast Group of local young poets to mirror the success he had with the London group , and Heaney was able to meet other Belfast poets such as Derek Mahon and Michael Longley.

Also a writer, Devlin published Over Nine Waves , a collection of traditional Irish myths and legends. In , Faber and Faber published his first major volume, called Death of a Naturalist. This collection was met with much critical acclaim and won several awards, including the Gregory Award for Young Writers and the Geoffrey Faber Prize.

That year his first son, Michael, was born. A second son, Christopher, was born in That same year, with Michael Longley , Heaney took part in a reading tour called Room to Rhyme, which increased awareness of the poet's work. In , his second major volume, Door into the Dark , was published. After a spell as guest lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley , Heaney returned in to Queen's University. In , Heaney left his lectureship at Belfast, moved to Wicklow in the Republic of Ireland, and began writing on a full-time basis.

In the same year, he published Wintering Out. In , Heaney published his fourth volume, North. A pamphlet of prose poems entitled Stations was published the same year.

He became Head of English at Carysfort College in Dublin in , and he moved with his family to Sandymount in that city. His next volume, Field Work , was published in Selected Poems and Preoccupations: Selected Prose — were published in He was subsequently elected a Saoi , one of its five elders and its highest honour, in Also in , Heaney traveled to the United States as a visiting professor at Harvard University , where he was affiliated with Adams House.

At the Fordham commencement ceremony on 23 May , Heaney delivered his address as a stanza poem entitled "Verses for a Fordham Commencement. Heaney joined the company's expanded Board of Directors in His father, Patrick, died in October the same year.

He wanted to "celebrate United Nations Day and the work of Amnesty". In , Heaney was elected Professor of Poetry at the University of Oxford , which he held for a five-year term to The chair does not require residence in Oxford.

Throughout this period, he was dividing his time between Ireland and the United States. He also continued to give public readings. So well attended and keenly anticipated were these events that those who queued for tickets with such enthusiasm were sometimes dubbed "Heaneyboppers", suggesting an almost teenybopper fan base.

In , The Cure at Troy , his play based on Sophocles 's Philoctetes , [30] was published to much acclaim. The next year, he published another volume of poetry, Seeing Things That same year, he was awarded the Dickinson College Arts Award and returned to the Pennsylvania college to deliver the commencement address and receive an honorary degree. He was scheduled to return to Dickinson again to receive the Harold and Ethel L.

Stellfox Award—for a major literary figure—at the time of his death in Irish poet Paul Muldoon was named recipient of the award that year, partly in recognition of the close connection between the two poets.

Heaney was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in for what the Nobel committee described as "works of lyrical beauty and ethical depth, which exalt everyday miracles and the living past". Neither journalists nor his own children could reach him until he arrived at Dublin Airport two days later, although an Irish television camera traced him to Kalamata. You hope you just live up to it.

Heaney was elected a Member of the Royal Irish Academy in and was admitted in In , Heaney was awarded an honorary doctorate and delivered the commencement address at the University of Pennsylvania. It houses the Heaney Media Archive, a record of Heaney's entire oeuvre, along with a full catalogue of his radio and television presentations. Chace, the university's recently retired president.

In , when asked if there was any figure in popular culture who aroused interest in poetry and lyrics, Heaney praised American rap artist Eminem from Detroit, saying, "He has created a sense of what is possible. He has sent a voltage around a generation. He has done this not just through his subversive attitude but also his verbal energy.

He read the poem at a ceremony for the 25 leaders of the enlarged European Union , arranged by the Irish EU presidency. In August , Heaney suffered a stroke. Although he recovered and joked, "Blessed are the pacemakers" when fitted with a heart monitor, [45] he cancelled all public engagements for several months. Among his visitors was former President Bill Clinton. Heaney's District and Circle won the T. Interviews with Seamus Heaney in ; this has been described as the nearest thing to an autobiography of Heaney.

He spoke at the West Belfast Festival in celebration of his mentor, the poet and novelist Michael McLaverty , who had helped Heaney to first publish his poetry.

In , Faber published Human Chain , Heaney's twelfth collection. Human Chain was awarded the Forward Poetry Prize for Best Collection, one of the major poetry prizes Heaney had never previously won, despite having been twice shortlisted. Poet and Forward judge Ruth Padel described the work as "a collection of painful, honest and delicately weighted poems Heaney was named one of "Britain's top intellectuals" by The Observer in , though the newspaper later published a correction acknowledging that "several individuals who would not claim to be British" had been featured, of which Heaney was one.

In December , he donated his personal literary notes to the National Library of Ireland. Heaney was compiling a collection of his work in anticipation of Selected Poems at the time of his death. The Music of What Happens , the first major exhibition to celebrate the life and work of Seamus Heaney since his death.

Though the exhibit's original vision to celebrate Heaney's life and work remains at the forefront, there is a small section commemorating his death and its influence. Seamus Heaney died in the Blackrock Clinic in Dublin on 30 August , aged 74, following a short illness. His funeral was held in Donnybrook , Dublin, on the morning of 2 September , and he was buried in the evening at his home village of Bellaghy , in the same graveyard as his parents, young brother, and other family members.

The day after his death, a crowd of 81, spectators applauded Heaney for three minutes at an All-Ireland Gaelic football semi-final match on 1 September. Many tributes were paid to Heaney. Generations of Irish people will have been familiar with Seamus' poems.

Scholars all over the world will have gained from the depth of the critical essays, and so many rights organisations will want to thank him for all the solidarity he gave to the struggles within the republic of conscience.

Bill Clinton , former President of the United States, said:. Both his stunning work and his life were a gift to the world. His mind, heart, and his uniquely Irish gift for language made him our finest poet of the rhythms of ordinary lives and a powerful voice for peace His wonderful work, like that of his fellow Irish Nobel Prize winners Shaw, Yeats, and Beckett, will be a lasting gift for all the world.

I am greatly saddened today to learn of the death of Seamus Heaney, one of the great European poets of our lifetime. The strength, beauty and character of his words will endure for generations to come and were rightly recognised with the Nobel Prize for Literature. Harvard University issued a statement:. For us, as for people around the world, he epitomised the poet as a wellspring of humane insight and artful imagination, subtle wisdom and shining grace.

We will remember him with deep affection and admiration. Poet Michael Longley , a close friend of Heaney, said: Seamus was one of us. Last Things in the Poetry of W.

Yeats and Philip Larkin ", W. Speaking of his early life and education, he commented, "I learned that my local County Derry experience, which I had considered archaic and irrelevant to 'the modern world', was to be trusted.

They taught me that trust and helped me to articulate it. In a number of volumes, beginning with Door into the Dark and Wintering Out , Heaney also spent a significant amount of time writing on the northern Irish bog. Particularly of note is the collection of bog body poems in North , featuring mangled bodies preserved in the bog. In a review by Ciaran Carson, he said that the bog poems made Heaney into "the laureate of violence—a mythmaker, an anthropologist of ritual killing Allusions to sectarian difference, widespread in Northern Ireland through his lifetime, can be found in his poems.

His books Wintering Out and North seek to interweave commentary on the Troubles with a historical context and wider human experience. Yet he has also shown signs of deeply resenting this role, defending the right of poets to be private and apolitical, and questioning the extent to which poetry, however "committed", can influence the course of history. Shaun O'Connell in the New Boston Review notes that "those who see Seamus Heaney as a symbol of hope in a troubled land are not, of course, wrong to do so, though they may be missing much of the undercutting complexities of his poetry, the backwash of ironies which make him as bleak as he is bright.

Again and again Heaney pulls back from political purposes; despite its emblems of savagery, Station Island lends no rhetorical comfort to Republicanism. Politic about politics, Station Island is less about a united Ireland than about a poet seeking religious and aesthetic unity. Heaney is described by critic Terry Eagleton as "an enlightened cosmopolitan liberal", [90] refusing to be drawn.

His collections often recall the assassinations of his family members and close friends, lynchings and bombings. His refusal to sum up or offer meaning is part of his tact.

Heaney published "Requiem for the Croppies ", a poem that commemorates the Irish rebels of , on the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising. He read the poem to both Catholic and Protestant audiences in Ireland. It was silence-breaking rather than rabble-rousing. You just have to permit it. I had lunch at the Palace once upon a time. Although he was born in Northern Ireland, his response to being included in the British anthology was delivered in his poem "An Open Letter":.

Don't be surprised if I demur, for, be advised My passport's green. No glass of ours was ever raised To toast The Queen.

He was concerned, as a poet and a translator, with the English language as it is spoken in Ireland but also as spoken elsewhere and in other times; he explored Anglo-Saxon influences in his work and study. Whatever the occasion, childhood, farm life, politics and culture in Northern Ireland, other poets past and present, Heaney strikes time and again at the taproot of language, examining its genetic structures, trying to discover how it has served, in all its changes, as a culture bearer, a world to contain imaginations, at once a rhetorical weapon and nutriment of spirit.

He writes of these matters with rare discrimination and resourcefulness, and a winning impatience with received wisdom. A Version from the Irish He took up this character and connection in poems published in Station Island His plays include The Cure at Troy: A Version of Sophocles' Philoctetes Heaney's play, The Burial at Thebes , suggests parallels between Creon and the foreign policies of the Bush administration. Heaney's engagement with poetry as a necessary engine for cultural and personal change is reflected in his prose works The Redress of Poetry and Finders Keepers: Selected Prose, — When a rhyme surprises and extends the fixed relations between words, that in itself protests against necessity.

When language does more than enough, as it does in all achieved poetry, it opts for the condition of overlife, and rebels at limit. Heaney's work is used extensively on school syllabuses internationally, including the anthologies The Rattle Bag and The School Bag both edited with Ted Hughes. Much familiar canonical work was not included, since they took it for granted that their audience would know the standard fare.

Fifteen years later, The School Bag aimed at something different. The foreword stated that they wanted "less of a carnival, more like a checklist. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize , E. Michael Christopher Catherine Ann [1] [2]. Further information on his works during this period: Death of a Naturalist and Door into the Dark. From "Joy Or Night": In order that human beings bring about the most radiant conditions for themselves to inhabit, it is essential that the vision of reality which poetry offers should be transformative, more than just a printout of the given circumstances of its time and place.

The poet who would be most the poet has to attempt an act of writing that outstrips the conditions even as it observes them. The Redress of Poetry: The Cure at Troy: A version of Sophocles' Philoctetes , Field Day The Burial at Thebes: A version from the Irish , Field Day Eleven Poems , Queen's University Room to Rhyme , Arts Council N.

A Lough Neagh Sequence , Phoenix Night Drive , Gilbertson Explorations , BBC Stations , Ulsterman Publications Bog Poems , Rainbow Press Four Poems , Crannog Press Glanmore Sonnets , Editions Monika Beck The Makings of a Music , University of Liverpool After Summer , Gallery Press Hedge School , Janus Press Ugolino , Carpenter Press Gravities , Charlotte Press A Family Album , Byron Press Toome , National College of Art and Design Sweeney Praises the Trees , Henry Pearson A Personal Selection , Ulster Museum Poems and a Memoir , Limited Editions Club An Open Letter , Field Day Among Schoolchildren , Queen's University Verses for a Fordham Commencement , Nadja Press Hailstones , Gallery Press From the Republic of Conscience , Amnesty International Place and Displacement , Dove Cottage Towards a Collaboration , Arts Council N.

Clearances , Cornamona Press The Sounds of Rain , Emory University The Dark Wood , Colin Smythe The Place of Writing , Emory University Squarings , Hieroglyph Editions Dylan the Durable , Bennington College The Golden Bough , Bonnefant Press Keeping Going , Bow and Arrow Press Joy or Night , University of Swansea Extending the Alphabet , Memorial University of Newfoundland Speranza in Reading , University of Tasmania Oscar Wilde Dedication , Westminster Abbey The Nobel Lecture , Gallery Press

Mid-Term Break Lyrics

Main Topics

Privacy Policy

Mid-Term Break By Seamus Heaney About this Poet Seamus Heaney is widely recognized as one of the major poets of the 20th century. A native of Northern Ireland, Heaney was raised in County Derry, and later lived for many years in Dublin. He was the author of over 20 volumes of poetry and.

Privacy FAQs

Mid-Term Break by Seamus Heaney - I sat all morning in the college sick bay Counting bells knelling classes to a close. At two o'clock our neighbors dro.

About Our Ads

Seamus Heaney and Mid-Term Break The early poem Mid-Term Break was written by Heaney following the death of his young brother, killed when a car hit him in It is a poem that grows in stature, finally ending in an unforgettable single line image. Mid-Term Break by Seamus Heaney..I sat all morning in the college sick bay Counting bells knelling classes to a close. At two oclock our neighbors drove me home. In the porch I met my. Page/5(8).

Cookie Info

Heaney’s poem about a death in the family is based on the actual death of the poet’s younger brother, Christopher, at the age of four. The “break” in “Mid-Term Break” implies not only. MID-TERM BREAK. The subject of this poem is the death of Seamus Heaney’s younger brother, Christopher who was killed by a car at the age of four.