Change In Seamus Heaney's Poems

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‘Mid-Term Break’ and ‘Death of a Naturalist’ are two of Heaney’s poems that express the motif of death and other changes through reflection. ‘Mid-Term Break’ is a poem that highlights a distressing event in the early years of his life, the death of his brother. The poem explores the emotional aspect of the lead up and impact of the experience on him and his parents. The poem highlights the briefness of life and that there is ultimately an end. Focusing on the importance of cherishing every moment with loved ones. Whereas, ‘Death of a Naturalist’ looks intimately at his passion towards nature during the early years of his life. Both poems effectively portray the theme of change and how one may eventually come to accept those changes. Ireland…show more content…
The sight of his father crying, a man who according to the speaker has always been a stoic and emotionally strong character, consequently confuses the speaker into wondering how he must react to this situation. This is a change in the family hierarchy as the father figure can no longer provide emotional stability. The poet elucidates the theme of change in the following strophe, “old men standing up to shake my hand”. The old men respond to the tragic incident by shaking his hand, leading the speaker into adulthood and maturity. He has now suffered and hence is seen as a man. However, the speaker feels the awkwardness of this gesture considering his young…show more content…
Heaney portrays his brother as a “corpse”. The word “corpse” brings a sense of emotional disconnection and detachment between the speaker and his brother and that the thing in front of him is not his brother anymore. Thus emphasizing the change that death brings to all. Nevertheless, the narrator’s attitude changes from denial to acceptance in the final few stanzas of the poem. The reader experiences a change in tone as time progresses, when he goes up to the room where the corpse is placed the next day. “Snowdrops / And candles soothed the bedside”. “Snowdrops” work as a metaphor representing the first flower after winter. This expresses the idea of new hope and regeneration, as well as the idea of acceptance of his brother’s death. As a result, the narrator has come to a conclusion that the heart of the funeral was not about time off school and shaking hands, but instead about confronting death and saying goodbye to a loved one.
Likewise, in ‘Death of a Naturalist’ a change in attitude also occurs comparable to ‘Mid-Term Break’. In the beginning of the poem the speaker is an enthusiastic naturalist whom enjoys exploring and organizing nature. The process from which tadpoles mature into frogs serves as a metaphor for the theme of growth and maturity in the narrator. The same could be said of nature through the use of the words “festered”, “rotted” and “clotted” which foreshadow
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