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Mid Term Break Annotation

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 neighbors 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 the left temple,
He lay in the four foot box as in a cot.
No gaudy scars, the bumper knocked him clear.
A four foot box, a foot for every year.
The poem begins with the narrator recalling
being a child in the college sick bay – he was
not ill and had been taken there as something
had happened.
A neighbour then arrived and took the poet
home, where it becomes clear that something
terrible has happened. His father was crying
and this was entirely out of character and the
family friend Jim Evans was there. Old men
greet the child and shake his hand. Then the
body arrives.
The poem ends with a change of scene and
time, as the child enters the room of his dead
brother the next morning and he attempts to
make sense of what has happened.
• Childhood – The poem involves the poet
recalling an event from his own
• It involves the narrator ‘growing up’ due
to the terrible nature of the experience.
• Death / Loss – The fact that the poem
deals with the death of a child,
encourages the reader and narrator to
question the pointlessness of death.
• Disassociation– The focus of the poem
is on the reactions of people to death and
the way people attempt to make sense of
the loss. The speaker of the poem seems
to be watching what is happening in
shock, unable to feel and let reality sink
• Memory – Poem recalls an event from
the past and this links it to other poems in
the collection that involve looking back in
order to see the present and future
1. Note the reactions of the
two parents - how does the
reader react to this? (2)
2. With whom, do you think,
is the mother angry? (2)
3. How does the poem
contrast the fuss of the
homecoming with the
calmness of the scene
when Seamus sees his
brother's body? (3)
4. What do you think is the
meaning of the poem's last
5. Analyse the figure of
speech in stanza 4. (2)
The Poet- Seamus Heaney
• In 1951, Seamus Heaney
was 12 years of age and
he went to St. Columb’s
College in Derry where he
was a boarding pupil.
• Whilst attending the
college, Heaney’s younger
brother Christopher was
killed in a road accident
and this poem involves the
poet recalling the events
that happened to him after