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Read the poem Mid Term Break in which Heaney writes about life and loss. Choose one other poem written by Heaney which also deals with these themes. Compare how the two poems deal with Heaney’s thoughts and feelings.
In the poem “Mid Term Break” Heaney deals with his thoughts and feelings on life and loss. These ideas are also addressed in “Death of a Naturalist”. The poet utilises a range of poetic techniques to convey the demise of his childhood and the disruption of natural order. The portrayal of death in the poems connote the poet’s feeling that life is futile; these themes combine to present Heaney’s feelings on life and loss.
Primarily, Heaney portrays the demise of his childhood in “Mid Term Break”, clearly presenting his dejected, sullen and resigned feelings towards life in the event of loss. The image of time and death in stanza one, “I sat all morning…counting bells knelling…at two o’clock” clearly show his sense of logical reminiscence during a particularly morbid time in his life. The juxtaposition of the morning and the symbolic death bells represent the premature end to his brother’s life and the destruction of his own childhood. This shows sullen resignation towards the event of loss in his life. This childhood demise is also presented in DOAN.
However, Heaney presents this in a more dramatic manner. Stanza one is longer than the second stanza, presenting how the poet revelled in his days of innocence. It also contains a tone of mystery and natural wealth, “bubbles gargled delicately, bluebottles/wove a strong gauze of sound…” through the use of synesthetic verbs to personify nature, Heaney portrays his nostalgic feelings towards this period of childhood innocence. This is emphasised through enjambment, which creates a sense of freedom. The demise of this is seen through the tonal shift, “then one hot day” in stanza two, moving the reader into the harshness of his adulthood.
The contrast in language is also evidence of this, it becoming grotesque and fearful, “gross bellied… obscene threats…farting heads…mud grenades.” Connotations of war, vengeance and threat are apparent, depicting his childhood demise through his negative perceptions of nature. Thus, it is clear from both pieces that Heaney has varied views on life and loss. In MTB the reader learns of his confusion and resignation as a result of his experience of death. However, DOAN presents a metaphorical depiction of how childhood is lost as a result of the harsh and oppressive adult world.