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November and Mid Term Break Poem Analysis

Mid-Term Break”, by Seamus Heaney, is a free-verse poem that portrays the event in which the speaker, who came back from boarding school, deals with the loss of a younger brother. In this poem there are several important themes such as time, age, family, pain, love and most of all death. This poem takes the audience along on the speaker’s journey to accepting his little brother’s death.

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The author used a number of imagery to depict the themes of the poem. In these imageries, Heaney challenges not only the audience’s visual imagery but as well as auditory, olfactory as well as emotional imagery.

For example: “Counting bells knelling classes to a close”, “the corpse, stanched” and “candles soothed the bedside. ” Throughout the poem, Seamus Heaney only used simile once to compare the coffin to a cot, “He lay in the four foot box as in a cot. ” The poem is organised with three lines per stanza in which there are no specific rhythm or rhyme pattern. However the last word in the poem rhymes with the last word in the stanza before. Seamus Heaney’s choice of words in this poem is what made the poem so special.

The phrase “it was a hard blow” and the line about the cooing baby bring certain awkwardness to the poem. Also the word “soothed” brings a certain warm feeling to the poem. However this word is besides words that are associated with mourning and death such as “bedside”, “candles” and “Snowdrops” These choices of words bring the audience on a emotional rollercoaster. Moreover, the author’s choice of words once more highlighted the last line. Heaney used alliteration, assonance and repetition to add further emphasis on the “four foot box” Which suggests how important this line is to the core of the poem. – The poem ‘November’ By Simon armitage is about how a man , the speaker, copes with the loss of a family member, not through death but through age.

The speaker and a man named John (probably a friend) have taken John’s grandmother to a nursing home. They know she will not come back out of the home. When they leave the old lady, they drive back to John’s house and drink alcohol, to cope with the emotions of the situation. The poet tries to lift John out of his depression. As with all poetry, the poem captures the interest of the reader through its exploration of human feelings and motivations.

The choice of ‘November’ as the title is effective in that this is clearly the winter of the grandmother’s life, which is drawing to its close. There is little, if anything, that is attractive about the month of November: the weather is bad, and certainly not picturesque, and the dismal and dank darkness which we associate with the month reflects the feelings experienced by the poet and John in the light of the old lady’s decline. In Stanza 1, the effects of ageing on the grandmother are shown by the way she walks: she takes four short steps to every two taken by the poet and John.

Stanza 2 shows the genuine affection and care John lavishes upon his grandmother, making sure that she has all she needs, as well as mementoes of home “family trinkets”: he is trying to cater for her emotional, as well as her physical, needs. The obvious closeness of the relationship is reflected in the fact that he “pares” his grandmother’s nails – quite an intimate act for a grandson to carry out. However, the old lady has degenerated into an object, as John wraps her in the rough blankets.

The reference to the old lady’s “incontinence” provides the reader with a clear indication of her helplessness, and why she has had to go into a nursing home. Stanza 3 begins with a play on words, “It is time John. ” this could mean that it is time to leave the old lady, or that it is the passage of time and hence the ageing process which has brought things to their current situation. The stanza focuses on the lack of quality of life of old people: they are drained of colour, their bodies show signs of ageing “slack breasts” and “baldness” and they are losing their mental faculties “stunned rains”.

The loss of ‘normal’ human attributes and capabilities is brought home by the poets’ shocking reference to “these monsters”. Stanzas 4 and 5 concentrate on the aftermath, emotionally, of leaving the grandmother in the home, no doubt John’s main feeling being one of guilt, and the final stanza is an attempt to lift the emotions of the reader and of John by giving a message of expediency, but one which is positive for the younger men.

The poem is written in free verse and contains little rhyme. The poem is constructed of six stanzas, the first five of three lines each, the last of only two lines. The first three stanzas focus on the nursing home, leading up to a crescendo at the end of Stanza 3 with “these monsters. ” throughout these stanzas, the poet is reassuring John, despite feeling repulsed by the images of the elderly in the home.

Both Poems are effective in their exploration of the emotions of sadness and guilt felt by relatives and friends when the passing years lead to a loved one losing all sense of dignity and quality of life. The choices of language and literary devices are very appropriate and served their purpose. In November, the speaker tells of the loss of a family member, not through death, but through age, using brutal language to put the point across while Mid Term break attempts to do the same, in a more bitter sweet way.