MidTerm Break Essay Research Paper I sat

Mid-Term Break Essay, Research Paper

I sat all morning in the college sick bay Counting bells knelling classes to a

close. At two o’clock our neighbours drove me home. In the porch I met my father

crying- 5 He had always taken funerals in his stride- And Big Jim Evans saying

it was a hard blow. The baby cooed and laughed and rocked the pram When I came

in, and I was embarrassed By old men standing up to shake my hand 10 And tell me

they were "sorry for my trouble", Whispers informed strangers I was

the eldest, Away at school, as my mother held my hand In hers and coughed out

angry tearless sighs. At ten o’clock the ambulance arrived 15 With the corpse,

stanched and bandaged by the nurses. Next morning I went up into the room.

Snowdrops And candles soothed the bedside; I saw him For the first time in six

weeks. Paler now, Wearing a poppy bruise on his left temple, 20 He lay in the

four foot box as in his cot. No gaudy scars, the bumper knocked him clear. A

four foot box, a foot for every year. Mid term break Commentary This is an

incredibly sad poem. The mood is set almost immediately in the second line:

Counting bells knelling classes to a close. Notice how Heaney uses assonance and

alliteration to emphasise the funereal sound of the bells and the feeling of

time dragging. The stanza begins with the ‘morning’ in line one but it is two

o’clock in line three showing that hours have passed in waiting. The second

stanza begins with the image of Heaney’s father ‘crying’. Having come across

Heaney’s father in poems such as Follower in which he appears to be a strong man

of few words, this contrary picture evokes powerful emotion in the reader.

Heaney skilfully takes the reader with him as he enters the house through the

porch – we meet his father, ‘Big Jim Evans’, the baby in its pram, the old men

congregated in the room and finally Heaney’s mother coughing out ‘angry tearless

sighs’. Lines 14-15 again show Heaney using assonance, this time in his

repetition of the short ‘a’ – ‘At’, ‘ambulance’, ‘arrived’, ’stanched’, ‘and’,

‘bandaged’ – emphasising the stopping short of blood and life. We learn in the

sixth stanza that Heaney hadn’t seen his brother for six weeks having been ‘Away

at school’. The words ‘Paler now,’ hang at the end of the stanza causing a sad

pause before the sentence continues and describes how little changed in

appearance the boy is in death, the difference being his paler complexion and

‘poppy bruise’. The final line stands out on its own. Almost every word is

emphasised so that the reader must take in the line’s message and the shock and

deep grief that the family must have felt. There is an element of shock for the

reader reading it for the first time also, when they discover who has died and

that he was a mere four years old.

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