Friday, June 27, 2008

A four foot box...

Last year, I kidnapped a literature book from my English classroom. I devoured the poetry section and kept the book hostage the entire year. Some poems I never did understand why they were of "literary merit." Others, like this one, I fell in love with without quite knowing why. There is a very distinct feel to "Mid-Term Break." I find emotion translates so poorly into words and when one can give the proper words to emotion, that to me is poetry. To me, "Mid-term Break" displays the disconnected clarity one views a tragic situation before the reality has really set in.

Mid-Term Break
Seamus Heaney

I sat all morning in the college sick bay
Counting bells knelling classes to a close.
At two o'clock our neighbors 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 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 the four foot box as in his cot.
No gaudy scars, the bumper knocked him clear.

A four foot box, a foot for every year.


Anonymous said...

this is written different in my literature book....nonetherless, i love the poem

Alice said...

I read this poem in the book 'Sound and sense'
Your posting is very helpful to analyze this poem
Thank you