Mid-Term Break By Seamus Heaney The Big Picture



Download 1 Mb.
Date19.01.2019
Size1 Mb.
#76083

Mid-Term Break

The Big Picture

  • During this unit you will:
  • Read the poem Mid-Term Break by Seamus Heaney
  • Discuss the themes and meanings of the poem
  • Understand what is meant by the terms: euphemism, simile, metaphor and transferred epithet
  • Write a CEL on the poem.

Critical Evaluation

  • Poems often deal with emotional situations. Write about a poem with an emotional theme. Say what the poem is about and show how successful the author was in describing an emotional time.

Who is Seamus Heaney?

  • Seamus Heaney (born 13 April 1939) is an Irish poet, writer and lecturer from County Londonderry, Northern Ireland.
  • He currently lives in Dublin.
  • Heaney was born the eldest of nine children at the family farmhouse called Mossbawn, near Castledawson, thirty miles to the north-west of Belfast, in Northern Ireland.

What are the characteristics of Heaney’s work?

  • Heaney's work often deals with the local — that is, his surroundings and everything inclusive of them. Inevitably this means Ireland, and particularly Northern Ireland. Hints of sectarian violence, which began just as his writing career did, can be found in many of his poems, even in works that on the surface appear to deal with something else.
  • Despite his many travels much of his work appears to be set in rural Londonderry, the county of his childhood. Like the Troubles themselves, Heaney's work is deeply associated with the lessons of history, sometimes even prehistory.
  • Many of his works concern his own family history and focus on characters in his own family: they can be read as elegies (funeral speech or song) for those family members.

What is Mid-Term Break about?

  • The poem is about the death of Heaney's infant brother (Christopher) and how people (including himself) reacted to this.
  • The poem is written from the point of view of a young Heaney, summoned from school after his brother died.

Mid-Term Break

  • 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 –
  • 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
  • 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
  • With the corpse, stanched and bandaged by the nurse.
  • Next morning I went up to 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,
  • 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.
  • Seamus Heaney

Mid-Term Break

  • 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 –
  • 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
  • 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
  • With the corpse, stanched and bandaged by the nurse.
  • Next morning I went up to 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,
  • 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.
  • Seamus Heaney

Mid-Term Break

  • 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.
  • Sense of isolation / immediate suggestion of sickness and death.
  • Long, drawn out event, lots of time to think.
  • Onomatopoeia – idea of funeral bells.

Mid-Term Break

  • In the porch I met my father crying –
  • He had always taken funerals in his stride –
  • And Big Jim Evans saying it was a hard blow.
  • Cruel (though not done out of spite) pun.
  • Sense that the father is outwith the grief of the house, hiding his feelings.
  • Death had been experienced before, although not in this way.

Mid-Term Break

  • 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
  • Although Heaney has taken on the role of an adult, he still has the feelings of a child.
  • Baby is an innocent, unaware of the events that are taking place.

Mid-Term Break

  • 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
  • Heaney attended a boarding school so had been absent for the actual event – guilt?
  • Euphemism
  • Sense of secrecy

Mid-Term Break

  • In hers and coughed out angry tearless sighs.
  • At ten o’clock the ambulance arrived
  • With the corpse, stanched and bandaged by the
  • nurse.
  • Removes the sense of humanity from the body – no longer his brother / Idea that they tried to save him / ‘stanch’ to stop blood (or tears)
  • Idea of a long day / Ambulances usually help

Mid-Term Break

  • Next morning I went up to the room. Snowdrops
  • And candles soothed the bedside; I saw him
  • For the first time in six weeks. Paler now,
  • No longer a bedroom, now a place of mourning. Calm and relaxing compared to other room.
  • Sense of guilt / Realisation that things happen while you are away / Heaney has a memory of his brother prior to this.
  • Transferred epithet
  • An epithet is a word which makes the reader see the object described in a clearer or sharper light. It is both exact and imaginative.

Mid-Term Break

  • Wearing a poppy bruise on his left temple,
  • He lay in the four foot box as in his cot.
  • No gaudy scars, the bumper knocked him clear.
  • He looks perfect / No sign of violence
  • Seems unreal, as if it could be removed
  • Poppy signifies Remembrance.
  • Euphemism, does not mention a coffin
  • Simile - cot, for a child, is a place of safety.
  • Sudden death.

Mid-Term Break

  • A four foot box, a foot for every year.
  • Signifies the brevity (shortness) of the child’s life.
  • Stanza
  • Analysis
  • 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.
  • Sense of isolation / immediate suggestion of sickness and death.
  • Onomatopoeia – idea of funeral bells.
  • Long, drawn out event, lots of time to think.
  • In the porch I met my father crying –
  • He had always taken funerals in his stride
  • And Big Jim Evans saying it was a hard blow.
  • Sense that the father is outwith the grief of the house, hiding his feelings.
  • Death had been experienced before, although not in this way.
  • Cruel (though not done out of spite) pun.
  • 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
  • Baby is an innocent, unaware of the events that are taking place.
  • Although Heaney has taken on the role of an adult, he still has the feelings of a child.
  • 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
  • Euphemism
  • Sense of secrecy
  • Heaney attended a boarding school so had been absent for the actual event – guilt?
  • In hers and coughed out angry tearless sighs.
  • At ten o’clock the ambulance arrived
  • With the corpse, stanched and bandaged by the nurse.
  • Enjambment / Suggestion that she has been crying for a while
  • Idea of a long day / Ambulances usually help
  • Removes the sense of humanity from the body – no longer his brother / Idea that they tried to save him / ‘stanch’ to stop blood (or tears)
  • Next morning I went up to the room. Snowdrops
  • And candles soothed the bedside; I saw him
  • For the first time in six weeks. Paler now,
  • No longer a bedroom, now a place of mourning.
  • Transferred epithet
  • Sense of guilt / Realisation that things happen while you are away / Heaney has a memory of his brother prior to this.
  • Wearing a poppy bruise on his left temple,
  • He lay in the four foot box as in his cot.
  • No gaudy scars, the bumper knocked him clear.
  • Seems unreal, as if it could be removed / Poppy signifies Remembrance.
  • Euphemism, does not mention a coffin / Simile - cot, for a child, is a place of safety.
  • He looks perfect / No sign of violence / Sudden death.
  • A four foot box, a foot for every year.
  • Signifies the brevity of the child’s life.

Mid-Term Break

  • What is unusual about the title of this poem?
  • The title ‘Mid-Term Break’ suggests a holiday of sorts, a time of enjoyment; in reality the poem deals with a time of grief and emotional upheaval.
  • 2. Looking at stanza one, how do you think the poet was feeling? Quote to support your answer.
  • The poet is feeling isolated from his family: ‘I sat all morning in the college sick bay’ Also, he is picked up by ‘neighbours’, furthering his isolation. He has had many hours to contemplate the events that have occurred, ‘…all morning’ until ‘…two o’clock…’.
  • Why does the poet choose the word “knelling” when writing about the school bells?
  • Onomatopoeia, the sound of funeral bells.
  • 4. What type of school did the poet attend? Give reasons for your answer.
  • He attended a boarding school. ‘I was the eldest, away at school…’

Mid-Term Break

  • 5. What did the poet find strange about his father’s behaviour?
  • His father is not his practical self, exhibiting emotion. Usually he took ‘funerals in his stride’, suggesting that he was used to death.
  • 6. Why is what “big Jim Evans” says an unfortunate pun?
  • As the child was killed literally by a hard blow, while the family are metaphorically hurt.
  • 7. Why was the baby the lucky one that day?
  • The child is an innocent, oblivious to the events and grief which surround it.
  • Why was the poet embarrassed by the old men shaking his hand?
  • This is an adult means of communication, Heaney is (despite his persona) a child, unsure of how to react to such formality.

Mid-Term Break

  • What was surprising about his mother’s behaviour?
  • His mother seems incapable of crying and her grief manifests itself through anger.
  • Contrast the reactions of both parents. With whom, do you think, is the mother angry?
  • The roles of the parents seem to have been reversed with the father taking on the more ‘feminine’ emotional role. The mother could be angry with any number of people – the driver, her husband (protector), her deceased child.
  • What is unusual about the poet’s use of the phrase “the corpse”? Answer fully.
  • The word ‘corpse’ suggests that Heaney seems detached. He does not see this body as being that of his younger brother, rather he has dehumanised the body in an attempt to cope with his grief.
  • How does this contrast with the language describing when he is alone with his brother’s body?
  • When he is alone with the body (and, indeed, with his grief) Heaney recognises it to be his brother. He calls the body ‘him’, admitting his emotional attachment.

Mid-Term Break

  • 13. How does the atmosphere change in this section?
  • In this section Heaney seems more at peace. The transferred epithet of “Snowdrops /
  • And candles soothed the bedside;” seem to provide him with some comfort. The room is a place of peace and contrasts greatly with the busy scene that the young Heaney walked into.
  • 14. Comment on the line “Wearing a poppy bruise on his left temple”.
  • The word ‘wearing’ suggests that this injury seems almost unreal, as if it could be removed at any point. A poppy signifies remembrance and highlights the effect that this event has had on Heaney’s life.
  • Comment on the simile in the third last line.
  • Likening the coffin to a cot, “He lay in the four foot box as in his cot.” symbolises how peaceful and safe the child looked. He seemed at peace, as if sleeping. Still the death seems unreal.

Mid-Term Break

  • Comment on the honesty of the last section compared to the embarrassment earlier in the poem.
  • Heaney is able to be more honest in this section as he is alone. He is no longer required to be ‘strong’ for his distraught parents. He is allowed to be a child, away from the adults who were treating him as if he were older. Prior to this, it almost seems like Heaney is the father-figure as his own father is outwith the family.
  • 17. What do you think of the last line of the poem?
  • Poignant image. Gives the idea of the brevity of life. The use of ‘box’ rather than coffin again suggests that Heaney is detached from the reality of what has happened.
  • 18. Comment on the poet’s use of euphemism in the poem. What is the effect of this?
  • “sorry for my trouble”, is an example of a euphemism. It suggests that people are almost afraid to mention the real truth. It seems almost clichéd and provides little comfort. Also, there is a suggestion that ‘trouble’ will pass, yet this grief will always be there.

How does the young Heaney feel?

  • Seamus
  • Heaney

How does the young Heaney feel?

  • Guilty: “I saw him / For the first time in six weeks. Paler now,”
  • “Whispers informed strangers I was the eldest / Away at school,”
  • Isolated: “I sat all morning in the college sick bay”
  • “At two o’clock our neighbours drove me home.”
  • Embarrassed: “I was embarrassed / By old men standing up to shake my hand”
  • In denial: “Wearing a poppy bruise”
  • “with the corpse”
  • Confused: “In the porch I met my father crying –”
  • Comforted: “Snowdrops / And candles soothed the bedside;”

Poetic Techniques

  • Enjambment: the running on of the thought from one line, couplet, or stanza to the next without a pause (no full stop/comma etc.)
  • Purpose of enjambment: Enjambment is the continuation of a sentence or clause over a line-break.
  • If a poet allows all the sentences of a poem to end in the same place as regular line-breaks, a kind of deadening can happen in the ear, and in the brain too, as all the thoughts can end up being the same length.
  • Enjambment is one way of creating interest through the unusual sound of a sentence running on when you expect it to pause.
  • This suggests how Heaney was feeling at the time (i.e. confused, unsure etc.)

Poetic Techniques

  • Transferred Epithet: device of emphasis in which a characteristic of one thing is attributed to another closely associated to it.
  • The calm mood is beautifully shown in the transferred epithet, “Snowdrops/And candles soothed the bedside” - literally they soothed the young Heaney.

Euphemism

  • The act or an example of substituting a mild, indirect, or vague term for one considered harsh, blunt, or offensive
  • Term
  • Definition
  • Example
  • Effect
  • Alliteration
  • Repetition of sounds at the beginning of words.
  • Assonance
  • Repetition of the same vowel sound
  • Couplet
  • Two lines of poetry paired together by rhyme
  • Metaphor
  • Comparing two things, as if one actually is the other
  • Onomatopoeia
  • Pathos
  • The writer provokes feelings of sadness, pity or sympathy in the reader
  • Personification
  • Objects are given human characteristics for effect
  • Simile
  • Comparing two things, using ‘like’ or ‘as’.
  • Symbolism
  • Use of one thing to represent another
  • Term
  • Definition
  • Example
  • Effect
  • Alliteration
  • Repetition of sounds at the beginning of words.
  • Assonance
  • Repetition of the same vowel sound
  • Couplet
  • Two lines of poetry paired together by rhyme
  • Metaphor
  • Comparing two things, as if one actually is the other
  • Onomatopoeia
  • When the sound of a word echoes or suggests its meaning
  • Pathos
  • The writer provokes feelings of sadness, pity or sympathy in the reader
  • Personification
  • Objects are given human characteristics for effect
  • Simile
  • Comparing two things, using ‘like’ or ‘as’.
  • Symbolism
  • Use of one thing to represent another
  • “…four foot box…”
  • Mirrors the idea of time passing
  • “…bells knelling…”
  • Mirrors the sound of the bells.
  • “No gaudy scars, the bumper knocked him clear.
  • A four foot box, a foot for every year.”
  • Signifies the end of the poem. The act of death followed by the realisation.
  • “…wearing a poppy bruise…”
  • ‘wearing’ suggests the bruise could be removed.
  • “…bells knelling…”
  • “baby cooed and laughed…”
  • Reminds us of funeral bells.
  • Shows innocence / happiness in contrast to what is going on.
  • “…angry, tearless sighs…”
  • “…I met my father crying…”
  • Signifies pure grief, ‘all cried out’
  • A child’s realisation that adults are flawed, have emotions etc.
  • “He lay in the four foot box as in his cot.”
  • Suggestion of safety.
  • Child looks at peace, as if sleeping.
  • “…wearing a poppy bruise…”
  • ‘poppy’ signifies remembrance.

Critical Evaluation

  • Poems often deal with emotional situations. Write about a poem with an emotional theme. Say what the poem is about and show how successful the author was in describing an emotional time.

What are you being asked to do?

  • Poems often deal with emotional situations. Write about a poem with an emotional theme. Say what the poem is about and show how successful the author was in describing an emotional time.
  • Identify what the theme is.
  • Why is this theme emotional?
  • Why is this particularly emotional?
  • What techniques does the poet use?
  • Is the poem explicitly emotional?
  • How has the poet’s word choice etc. conveyed the emotion of the event?

Introduction

  • Your introduction must include:
  • Title
  • Author
  • Genre
  • Link to Question
  • Short Summary

Sample Introduction

  • A poem that deals with emotional themes is ‘Mid-Term Break’ written by Irish poet, Seamus Heaney. The poem describes the aftermath of the death of Heaney's infant brother (Christopher) and how people (including himself) reacted to this. The poem is written from the point of view of a young Heaney, summoned from school after his brother died. The poem successfully conveys Heaney’s sense of grief through various poetic techniques such as metaphor, simile and alliteration.

Paragraph Planning

  • Every internal paragraph (not introduction and conclusion) must contain:
  • Point
  • Context
  • Quotation
  • Evaluation

How does Heaney convey the grief felt?

  • His own sense of isolation
  • The reactions of his parents
  • His feelings of embarrassment
  • The description of the body
  • His time spent with the body
  • His description of the coffin

Writing Topic Sentences (Point)

  • The first part of your paragraph should be your topic sentence or point.
  • This should tell the reader exactly what this paragraph will be about.
  • It should be one short, concise sentence.

Writing Topic Sentences (Point)

  • Every paragraph MUST begin with a topic sentence.
  • A topic sentence advises the marker of which topic will be covered in the paragraph.
  • A topic sentence has to do two jobs:
  • it must refer to the question
  • it must state what topic is being covered in the paragraph.
  • Look again at your essay question.
  • What exactly are you being asked to do?
  • What information must you include in each topic sentence?
  • Poems often deal with emotional situations. Write about a poem with an emotional theme. Say what the poem is about and show how successful the author was in describing an emotional time.

Writing Topic Sentences (Point)

  • His own sense of isolation
  • it must refer to the question
  • it must state what topic is being covered in the paragraph.
  • Poems often deal with emotional situations. Write about a poem with an emotional theme. Say what the poem is about and show how successful the author was in describing an emotional time.
  • Sample Topic Sentences:
  • Heaney’s shows his isolation throughout the poem by conveying his grief.
  • Heaney’s sense of isolation highlights to the reader how grief has affected the young boy.
  • The poet’s isolation throughout the poem suggests that death has forced Heaney to become separated from his family.
  • Heaney’s description of his isolation suggests to the reader that grief is a personal emotion.

Context

  • The paragraph should contain information about what is happening in the poem when these events occur.
  • This is the context.

Quotation

  • Each paragraph must contain a quotation.
  • A quotation must be written in your essay exactly as it is written in the text (line by line).
  • A quotation must always be put inside quotation marks.

Evaluation

  • After you have written your quotation you must explain how the quotation helps you to answer the question.
  • Does the poet use any poetic techniques?
  • Do you think he is effective is getting his point across?
  • How does this analysis help you to answer the question?
  • This is the evaluation of the quotation.
  • Your analysis must be detailed and specific.
  • Do not write ‘This shows…’.
  • Identify the specific word(s) and the technique(s) utilised by the poet.

Conclusion

  • Your introduction must include:
  • Title
  • Author
  • Genre
  • Link to Question
  • Your personal opinion on the poem.


Download 1 Mb.

Share with your friends:




The database is protected by copyright ©sckool.org 2022
send message

    Main page