Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Day 410: Mid-Term Break

 

This is the poem that Seamus Heaney is most famous for in Ireland. We've all had to study it at school at some point. The poem that recounts his experience of returning home from college as a young student for his younger brother Christopher's wake, who was hit by a car, only four years old. 

And this is the poem that is maybe his most loved. Its tender telling of grief is universal, relatable and devastating in its simplicity.


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. 

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