Mid Term Break Seamus Heaney Analysis

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The poem Because I Could Not Stop For Death by Emily Dickinson reveals the calm acceptance of death and transition into the afterlife whereas Mid-Term Break by Seamus Heaney conveys his view towards the tragic death of his younger brother. While the theme of death is prevalent in both poems, they are both portrayed in contrasting ways as Dickinson’s thoughts and imagery of death are personified as the speaker transitions from life to death to an afterlife whereas Heaney writes from a deeply personal and emotional perspective on the finality of death.

In Mid-Term Break, Heaney writes in the form of a lyric poem and is written retrospectively in order to encapsulate the tragedy of his brother’s death. The title of the poem itself is ironic as we normally associate a Mid Term Break to a holiday, yet the tone swiftly juxtaposes the title as Heaney is “counting bells knelling to a close”, symbolically relating to the ringing of church bells
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Throughout the poem, death is personified through the use of capitalization as seen in the quotation “He Kindly Stopped for Me”, implying that the narrator has accepted the idea of death; the adverb describing death as “kindly” indicates how caring and courteous he is. Death leads the narrator into an afterlife through a gradual progression of events rather than an abrupt end, as seen in Heaney’s ‘Mid Term Break’. The end of the poem sees the narrator obtaining immortality and living in “Eternity”.

Dickinson hints at the idea of immortality at the beginning of the poem where she describes that there are three people present in the carriage: the narrator, death and immortality: “The carriage held but just Ourselves - And Immortality”. The inclusion of time and the juxtaposition of “Centuries” and how it feels “Shorter than the Day” develops the idea of “Eternity” and immortality as time has lost
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