“Mid term break” was written by Seam’s Haney, an Irish poet who lived together with nine siblings. Many of his works are about everyday life, a testimony to his profound observations of even the smallest things. This poem, “Mid term break”, was a reflection of his brother, Christopher death. Although it is entitled “Mid Term Break”, the poem is far from cheerful. The ideas of death, trauma, grief and despair are explored here. The tone of the poem is somber and solemn. The narrator may seem a little detached as well.
He does not show any outward sign that he is grieving o much over the death of his brother, but traces of his sadness could be seen in the times when he recalls memories of his brother, “the baby cooed and rocked the pram” and “lay in the four foot box as in his cot”. Haney delivered the poem shrouded in mystery. His introduction in the first stanza does not give the audience a clue about what would happen next. It had a relaxed, happy tone, and gives us the impression that he had all the time in the world to spare.
This was shown by the act of “Counting bells knelling classes too close”, making the first stanza seem to last a Eng time. These words supports the previous line, “waited all morning”. Also, the allusion to “classes” and “college sick bay’ suggests that the narrator was still slightly naive and youthful at the time. When the “neighbors drove” him home, the sense of mystery begins to build up. Upon arriving at his home, he “met his father crying”. Here, the ideas of grief, trauma and the resulting disorientation are explored.
A father represents a strong pillar within the family, but here, the poet showed how much the shock of the death of a close family member could cause even the trotters pillar to collapse. His father had “always taken funerals in his stride”, and could show that deaths were quite common, however, they had never expected it to hit so close to them. The mention of a “hard blow’ had both a physical and emotional meaning in the text. It could refer to the physical impact of the accident on the poet’s brother, and it may also refer to the immense emotional trauma experienced by the family members.
Haney had also referred to his brother as a “baby’, and in line 18, it was the “first time in six weeks” he was seeing him. This suggests that the poet had only a fleeting memory of his brother, and most of his memories were concerned with him when he was a baby, “cooing and rocking the pram”. To me, I find that this part is the most tear Jerking part of all, as it describes the poet having a distanced relationship with his brother that he would now never be able to repair. As he entered the house, he was “embarrassed by old men who stood up to shake” his hand.
This could be a representation of him suddenly assuming the responsibility of a mature adult. There were many other strangers who became the spectator of the funeral, and therefore the “Whispers informed strangers that (the poet) was the eldest, away at school”. This also emphasized the difference between being a spectator, and the actual family members of the victim. The emotional blow caused his mother to “cough out angry tearless sighs”. This could mean that the mother had cried too much until she had no tears left, and also could mean that she blamed herself for not being able to protect her child enough.
Here, there is a contrast between the conventional reaction of the father and mother. The mother is angry and sad, while the father is tearful. The narration is direct and simple, and this gives an innocent, childlike view of the situation. There is a lot of visual images in the poem, such as “snowdrops and candles soothed the bedside”. These serve to soften the harsh image and make it more peaceful. “Wearing a poppy bruise” and “no gaudy scars”, the poet’s descriptions of his brother, also show the light injuries he saw, aiding to give a quiet, peaceful atmosphere to the paragraph.
In losing his four year old brother, Haney discovered the brutal reality of the world. It was a time of transition from adolescence to adulthood for him. 1 . Things are backward: Father crying, Mother angry, 4 year old dies first. 2. Loss of innocence: shake hands, . The calm mood is beautifully shown in the imagery (“Snowdrops/And candles soothed the bedside” – literally they soothed the young Haney). The flowers are a symbol in the poem, but also in reality for the family (a symbol of new life, after death).
The bruise is seen as not really part of the boy – he is “wearing” it (a metaphor), as if it could come off. Haney likens the bruise to the poppy, a flower linked with death and soothing of pain (opiates come from poppies). The child appears as if sleeping (a simile). We contrast the ugly “corpse, stanched and bandaged”, which becomes a sleeping child – dead. The last line of the poem is most poignant and skillful – the size of the coffin is the measure of the child’s life. DIGGING This poem “Digging” is in Honey’s first collection of poems called “Death of a Naturalist” (1966).
This poem is the first poem of this collection. It is a free verse poem written in first person narrative, with eight stanzas containing two couplets. The free structure of this poem allows Haney to freely express his respect of the Irish tradition as well as his pride and dignity towards his ancestors. The poem starts and ends with the same lines “between my finger and my thumb/The squat pen rests” UT the first stanza ends with “as snug as a gun” and the last stanza ends with “I’ll dig with it. Thus, Haney foregrounds the importance of the writer’s profession and craft by breathing new life into the clichéd idiom “the pen is mightier than the sword. ” Haney affirms that he has decided to choose his own career path, as a writer. It is clear that Haney feels confident that he is very skilled with a pen and demonstrates and proves that he is an accomplished poet by writing this very thought provoking poem. The title “Digging” is usually interpreted as an act of hard labor. It awakens our curiosity for we want to know the reasons why he is digging and what he is digging for.
The poem basically describes his father digging potato drills and the grandfather cutting turf: “By God, the old man could handle a spade, Just like his old man. ” However the poet does not praise their strength as diggers. But the act of digging is associated more with the passing on of special values from generation to generation. There is also an extended metaphor of digging and roots in the poem, which shows how the poet, in his writing, is getting back to his own identity, and where his family moms from: “Digging…. Wrought living roots awaken in my head. ” Haney realizes that in choosing the squat pen’ over the spade’ he is in fact ‘digging’ up memories of his ancestors, and thus enabling the process of the historical past giving meaning to the present. So all in all, he draws the conclusion that whilst we must not forget our roots,we must pursue our own passions and dreams in life. For Haney, it is his chosen calling as a writer in which he finds solace, which enables him to transfer memories onto paper, giving old thoughts the power to transcend time.