Seamus Heaney

(April 13,1939 - August 30, 2013 / Castledàwson, County Londonderry)

Mid-Term Break


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.

Submitted: Wednesday, December 28, 2011

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  • Chan Cheuk Wai (2/5/2014 3:14:00 AM)

    Very miserable! ! It is very touching poem.In th poem, the mother feels guilty(IN hers and coughed out Angry Tearless Sighs [L13]) .Also, the father feels sad! ! ! The Narrator feels embarrassed, clam, confused etc.(I sat all morning in the college sick bayCounting bells knelling classes to a close.) (Report) Reply

  • May Obrien (10/30/2013 8:16:00 AM)

    a four foot box, a foot for every year. this is the stuff that stays with you forever. (Report) Reply

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