The poem Mid-Term Break versus the poem Caged Bird

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The poem ‘Mid-term Break’ by Seamus Heaney is a poem that made me feel extremely moved for the poet. It is a poem full of touching and heart-wrenching verses depicting poignant scenes of the family in mourning. As most people would think by reading this poems title, it is not about a joyous mid-term break of happy children enjoying their holidays. But in reality the poem is a sad one, which involves death and a bereaved family. A mid-term break is a time, which a lot of students look forward to because it is a break from school.

It indicates a term being broken in half, a time of relaxation and enjoying the time of school. But the poem is nothing about that. It indicates a sad period for the people involved and when they should be having fun, instead they are grieving for the death of a family member. The beginning of this poem is appealing as it starts with an ominous tone. The poem starts off on a sad note, describing a boy sitting alone in suspense in the ‘college sick bay’. This already gave me a gloomy picture in my mind of a depressed boy awaiting bad news. I sat all morning’ shows that he must have been waiting for quite some time. Also, the speaker was, “Counting bells knell classes to a close,” suggesting a pessimistic, darkly shaded outlook.

The word “knell” denotes to ring slowly and solemnly, especially for a funeral, thus adding a mournful tone to the poem reflected by the speaker spending the morning isolated in a college sick bay. The stanza begins with the “morning” in line one, but it is two o’clock in line three, showing that hours have passed in waiting. At two o’clock our neighbours drove me home’ concludes and finalises that the occasion was truly sad since his parents did not drive him home and the poet does not mention anything about the neighbours talking cheerfully to him.

The second stanza begins with the image of Heaney’s father “crying”. Heaney’s father appears to be a strong man of few words, so having him crying causes a powerful emotion in the reader. We know this when Heaney says that his father usually took ‘funerals in his stride’. For a son the father is like superman, invincible and extremely powerful.

However for a boy to see his father in an emotion breakdown is very difficult. One can only imagine what the young boy might be experiencing at that time seeing his hero cry. Also seeing that his mother is coughing ‘angry tearless sighs’ creates the image in the readers mind that the mother is trying extremely hard to control her emotions and is holding her eldest son’s hand for support seeing that her husband is emotionally scarred. The ending I personally feel is the strongest and most emotional part of the entire poem as it has a jarring effect on the reader.

Throughout the poem the poet makes the reader feel as if he is a bystander and in the concluding note he hits the reader with the fact that the death was of a four year old boy. This makes us feel extremely sympathetic for the unfortunate family and thus touches the reader’s heart like a bull’s eye. Hence the emotions conveyed through the powerful and effective language make this poem for me a truly appreciative poem in which I was moved close to tears. From the selection, the poem that made me think deeply was ‘Caged Bird’ by Maya Angelou. Her poem portrays the theme of survival.

After reading Maya Angelou’s poem Caged Bird , I was struck by the beauty of her dedication. The awareness of being Black is the most powerful inspiration for Black writers in America. Although being Black was once considered a liability both socially and culturally, Maya Angelou has truly “defied the odds”. The songs they sang echoed not only the struggle, but the beauty, hope and the determination of the Black experience. Maya Angelou’s poetry reflects the powerful spirit of Black women throughout the world today. Her poem comprises of complex feelings of remorse, pain, ecstasy, triumph and above all strength.

In Maya Angelou’s poem, “Caged Bird” there is a clear parallel between the caged bird and the free bird, and the African American man or woman and the white man or woman. While Angelou never mentions either race it is clear that she does so through the metaphors she uses to send the points she wants to get across to her audiences. Maya Angelou’s words speak out to an all African American audience. Her words are meant for this audience to relate to, understand, and share the feelings of oppression and segregation, and feelings of jealousy toward the white race.

Maya Angelou also speaks to an audience of mixed races. The anguish of imprisonment is indeed a hard thing to take. Especially when others are free to make their own choices, free to do what they wishes and to go where they will. Maya Angelou’s ‘Caged Bird’, depicts the carefree life of a free bird and the incredible desire for freedom of the caged bird. The caged bird desperately wants to be let free but is denied, thus its only option is to sing as it is its last source of freedom. It is the only way the caged bird can express the intensity of its sorrow for its lost freedom.

By singing the caged bird is keeping its spirit alive and this shows its determination and strength allowing it to survive. The birds are personified in the lives of humans in emotions, physical imprisonment, and moral attachments. This social injustice led me to think about how there are many people today who treat others unjustly merely because they believe themselves to be superior to everyone else. Therefore this poem is an excellent example to all those that are being oppressed as it shows how others have faced these unfair ways with willpower and fortitude.

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