Flashcards in Midterm Break Deck (15):
- 7 stanzas of 3 lines each, then singular line
- single isolated line hits hard, puts emphasis on age of boy + causes us to think of the tragedy of his death
- opening line already suggests something is wrong - why couldn't he wait in class to be picked up
- use of word knelling is ominous (rather than ringing)
- also the fact that neighbours drove him home, why couldn't parents?
- suggests should be free, happy time - this contrasts the reality of the poem (dark + sad)
- meeting father crying is also v. foreboding, was not the norm for grown men to cry in 1950s Ireland, especially as he had 'always taken funerals in his stride'
- this stanza also confirms that something terrible has happened, a death has occurred, presumably someone in the family
- baby has no idea what's going on, makes situation even more tragic
- embarrassment at old men shaking his hand shows he's just a normal teenager, embarrassed at having to act as eldest as parents are distraught
- 'sorry for your trouble'
- revealed that protagonist is eldest, the fact that it's whispers informing strangers means everyone from area has come - v. serious
- mother held hand
- mother coughing out angry tearless sighs shows she is too overcome by grief and anger to even cry
- corpse staunched + bandages by the nurses - slightly gruesome image - later contrasted
- 'the room' is v. vague but it's obvious what he's talking about
- image of white, peaceful room with flowers and candles everywhere - use of word 'soothing' suggests a calm environment, + that they're both soothing the boy and the family
- 'saw him for the first time in 6 weeks' had been at school, now on unwanted break
- "paler now" - still thinking of what was before
- "poppy bruise" - poppies are traditionally flower of the dead
- "lay in 4 foot box as in cot" - still thinking of him as before, looks so peaceful lying there could be asleep (no gaudy scars)
- revealed he died in car accident
- in this and next stanza, refers to boy using 'he/him' pronouns rather than as 'the corpse'
- hammers home the tragedy of the situation
- use of 'box' rather than 'coffin' twice suggests he is reluctant to accept the death
- emphasises death + informs of youth of child
What makes poem so powerful?
- emotions are v. understated - Heaney describes everything that happened as he saw it, but doesn't even make a personal comment on anything
- describes the emotions + devastation of others, but never lets his own emotions come to the surface
- one can sense his deep sorrow, especially in the last line, but he never explicitly states his feelings towards/about the situation