2 Mid-Term Break I sat all morning in the college sick bay Counting bells knelling classes to a close. At ten 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 that 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 a four foot box, as in his cot. No gaudy scars, the bumper knocked him clear. A four foot box, a foot for every year.
3 Seamus Heaney Born 13 April 1939 County Londonderry, N. Ireland Eldest of 9 childrenSt. Columb’s College, BelfastNoble Prize in Literature in 1995‘Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry’ in Queen’s University, BelfastPoems deal with:Local surroundingsIssues in N. IrelandHis own family historyFocus on characters in his own family
4 Style / ThemesContextElegy – a sad/thoughtful poem lamenting the death of a personPersonal look back at the death of the poet’s younger brother7 stanzas of 3 lines each, final line on its own.Themes : Childhood, Death/Loss, MemoryAt 12, Heaney was a boarding pupil at St. Columb’s College, DerryWhilst Heaney was at college, his younger brother Christopher was killed in a car accident.Poem is recalls the events from Heaney’s perspective
5 Int 2 Past Paper Poetry Questions 2006Birth, death, love, hate, jealousyPositive experienceArouses strong emotion2007Ordinary experience – deeper meaningPity or sympathyDescribes a scene/incident vividly2008Sadness, pity or lossStrong relationshipHuman behaviour2010MessageAtmosphereCharacterInt 2 Past Paper Poetry QuestionsQuestions in bold are all occasions when the poem ‘Mid-term Break’ could be used
6 Where is Heaney in the first stanza? (Check lines 11-12 for clues) By the end of stanza 2, what can we begin to guess has happened? What clue points to this conclusion?In what way is the father’s reaction unexpected?Why does the baby react like this? Why does this reaction stand out?Strangers are told Heaney is “the eldest” (line 11) Why might this be significant?Why do you suppose Heaney is “embarrassed” about the way the old men treat him?In stanza 5 Heaney mentions “the corpse”. Who has died? Why do you think Heaney has chosen to use the word “corpse” rather than “body”.How can we tell what has happened to him? Quote from the poem to support your answer.Heaney describes the “poppy bruise” on his head. What do we normally associate poppies with?How old was he? Quote from the poem to help explain your answer. How does the reader react to finding out the boy’s age?
7 Revealing hidden feelings How do you think Heaney might have felt about:His father cryingBig Jim EvansThe baby in the pramThe strangersHis mother’s sighsThe difference between his father and motherWhy do you think these feelings have not been described?
8 Symbols Think about each of these images. What is unusual about each? Snowdrops and candles soothed the bedsideWearing a poppy bruiseNo gaudy scarsThink about each of these images.What is unusual about each?Are there any techniques used?Add this info to your copy of the poem
9 “A four foot box, a foot for every year” The final line“A four foot box, a foot for every year”How effective is this final line?What is the purpose of it?What do you learn from it?Language used?
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