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Seamus Heaney's Mid-Term Break Essay

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Midterm Break Interp “Mid-Term Break”

Seamus Heaney’s “Mid-Term Break” is an extremely tear-jerking poem. The story begins and ends in a very depressing manner, while in between we are treated to a very vivid and blunt view of life and how it can all come to an abrupt end. While “Mid-Term Break” does use death to grab at the reader’s heart strings, the story is most likely a description of life in Heaney’s native Northern Ireland, not Heaney’s life, but a very general view of life in Northern Ireland, how it can all come to a screeching halt at the hands of others and for no apparent reason. The warring in Northern Ireland has cost a lot of lives and due to the staggering amount of those who have passed for their cause, it is easy
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It could be interpreted that this is a representation of those leaders who lead the rebellion. Those who send others to the front, then when one of their own goes down to attack, pull back somewhat and deal with their loss, rather than continue to lend that same support to the cause. Heaney’s mother “coughing out angry tearless sighs,” (Heaney 13) speaks as a sort of anger in those around who feel this is more of a setback to the rebellion, rather than losses that will affect families.

Lines 14-15 again shows Heaney using assonance, this time in his repetition of the short “a”. “At”, “ambulance”, “arrived”, “stanched”, “and”, and “bandaged” (Heaney 14-15) - this emphasizes the stopping short of blood and life. This “death”, is a very heart wrenching description of the prospect of their cause coming to an end with every wave of casualties, not so much about death of those serving, but death of the cause.

In the sixth stanza, Heaney tells us, the reader, that he hadn’t seen his brother for six weeks, having been “away at school”(Heaney 18). This could represent a sort of drift into personal loss, perhaps a loved one lost in conflict, but most likely it is more of a vague insight to, perhaps, a specific excursion in which several people left to encounter the opposing force and those survivors are just now returning. Given the mood of the piece, the survivors are badly beaten and wounded, adding to the despair felt throughout the work. The
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