Poetry (Seamus Heaney)

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 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 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,
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.

MidTerm Break” describes the aftermath of a tragedy: the speaker’s four-year-old brother has been hit by a car and killed. But the poem doesn’t spend a lot of time describing the accident or memorializing the dead child. Instead, the poem focuses on the way that other people respond to this tragedy.

Analysis of the poem.

TASK 1: Annotate your poem. Be as detailed as possible.

Poem analysis Link

TASK 2: After reading and analysing the poem, work in pairs (use Meet) and take notes so we can discuss everything later.

1.What time did the neighbours pick the boy up?

2.When he arrived home what was the boy’s father doing?

3.When was the last time the boy had seen his little brother?

4.What two items where beside the bed?

5.What age was his little brother when he died?

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