The Use of Words, Images and Techniques in the ‘Mid-Term Break’ Poem by Seamus Heaney

December 21, 2020 by Essay Writer

In this essay, I will discuss the use of words, images, and techniques, and their effect on the poem Mid-Term Break by Seamus Heaney.

‘Mid-Term Break’ by Seamus Heaney is a poem with seven stanzas which is made up of sets of three lines, or tercets. In this poem Heaney talks about the death of a four years old(Heaney’s little brother). This poem is quite straightforward and written in emotionally.

In the first stanza there is a lot of alliteration poet uses a number of words that start with a “c” sound. Such as, “college,” “counting,” classes,” “clock,” and “close,” all in three lines to slow down the poem. Also it uses onomatopoeia when the poet wrote “bell knellings” this tells us that it is something about a funeral because it is the sound of the funeral bells.

The poet doesn’t really tell us if it is a funeral or not until stanza two when the atmosphere and tension are building as we notice Heaney seeing his father crying. In the second stanza finds Heaney gets back home, seeing his father crying, which is surprising as ‘he had always taken funerals in his stride’ furthermore men are meant to be tough and are now showing emotion which the poet isn’t used to. And he also sees his mother is unable to speak. There are many strangers around the house as well and all of them seem sad and showing understanding.

In this stanza third and fourth you can see that the mood was lighten when the poet wrote “The baby cooed and laughed and rocked the pram,” however after it changed back to a gloomy situation. You can see that Heaney is embarrassed by the way ‘old men’ come to shake his hand and say they are ‘sorry for my trouble’ showing that people felt sorry for Heaney’s lost.

In the fifth stanza it tells us that the ambulance of his little brother arrived. Heaney uses the term “the corpse” which make it sound really harsh because he could’ve used “him, he his,” but I understand why he used “the corpse” this is because he doesn’t want to be too attached to his brother anymore since he knows his brother has already passed away. Then they said It has been “stanched and bandaged by the nurses.” It is no longer with serious wounds. All the wounds have been covered.

In the six stanza it tells us that Heaney went up to the room where they kept his little brother I know this when its written, “Next morning I went up into the room” and sees the “Snowdrops / And candles” beside the bed. It is a peaceful atmosphere and very quiet.

In the final stanza, ‘poppy bruise on his left temple’ usually a poppy flower represents death. His bed is described using a simile ‘as in is cot’ to describe the bed like a child’s cot as it is so small and he is young. On this final stanza we also learn that his little brother died from a car accident ‘the bumper knocked him clear’.

The final line shows how the coffin is so small, “A four-foot box” which shows that it was a little innocent child who died. The poet uses euphemism to smooth the death, instead of saying just coffin he described it just as a little box.

In conclusion, we can say that ‘Mid-Term Break’ is an autobiographical work about the death of Heaney’s young brother, Christopher. Heaney uses various language techniques to make the readers feel sympathy. I feel that this was a very effective poem as the themes of the death and family grief.

In my opinion, I find this poem sad. It makes me sad because this is about an innocent little boy’s death and also the way the poet wrote about, how he makes the story go slow and how he uses euphemism. I love this poem however it is really depressing knowing that it is a true story and it is a bout an innocent child. 


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