Carol Ann Duffy was a Scottish poet who wrote ‘In Mrs Tilschers Class’. This poem reminds me of my last days in the last year of primary school which is interesting and makes me have a positive effect to it. Seamus Heaney was a Northern Irish poet who wrote ‘Mid Term Break’ however this title describes a holiday he tell us about an unforgettable moment in his life that he will never forget. Heaney was born on April 13, 1939 at the family farmhouse of “Mossbawn” near Castledawson in Co Londonderry, and educated intially at Anahorish primary school.
These two poems are autobiographical. Duffy has an oddly written structure written in the second person, so the reader identifies with ‘you’. She has her poem set in her classroom in Easter term. The tone and mood is light hearted and happy. She has 4 stanzas with 8 lines in each. Heaney use ‘I’ which makes the reader identify with Heaney. He has set his poem in many places his college sick bay, home, his bedroom and in the morning and the morning after.
The tone and mood is sad and tragic.
He uses 7 stanzas with 3 lines in each but the last stanza has only one line which is powerful and grabbing to the reader. “In Mrs Tilschers Class” she describes the change that takes place between childhood and adolescence. The safety of Mrs Tilschers primary school classroom is contrasted with life outside against a background including the moors murderers Ian Brady and Myra Hindley. A growing sexual awareness marks the end of innocence.
In the first stanza Duffy describes the geography lesson that they were in where Mrs Tilschers “chanted the scenery”.
Duffy uses an effective simile to convey her sense of happiness at being in “In Mrs Tilschers class” when she said the classroom “glowed like a sweet shop” Using the word ‘glowed’ suggests warmth and comparing the classroom to a sweetshop emphasises Duffy’s sense of happiness as every child loves sweets. With the growth of the tadpoles suggests change. She also includes a sentence saying “the rough boy who told you where you came from” this also marks the end of the child’s innocence by telling her where she came from. The child rejects the news ‘you kicked him’ but it is still altered to the child’s parents.
The last and final stanza is full of imagery and frustration. The end of the term is here and she will soon be moving to secondary school. There is still a mark of innocence but now seems to be harder to keep it. We now identify with the poet as will go through the experience of leaving primary school. In Heaney’s poem he describes how his brother who was killed in an accident while Heaney was at college. The painful experience of returning from college as an adolescent to the family home for the funeral is detailed in the poem “Mid Term Break” from a death of a tragic accident.
This is an incredibly sad poem. When I first looked at the title ‘Mid Term Break’ I was deliberately mislead to think it was about a happy time however he gives us clues through the poem about the horrific incident that did occur. Heaney immediately sets the mood of sadness by describing himself counting bells knelling classes to a close which gives us a thought about funeral bells in the first stanza. He uses alliteration to emphasise this sentence to make it more dramatic, ‘counting bells knelling classes to a close’.
In stanza one he describes the time passing by very slowly. To keep things off his mind Heaney tells us that he was counting bells knelling classes to a close. When we feel the time dragging by us it is because of an unpleasant time as the thought that keeps us waiting impatiently. When he writes that neighbours come to pick him up we wonder why his parents are unable to pick him up. In the third stanza he tells us that “old men standing up to shake my hand” this makes us think that he has taken the position of his parents.
In the second stanza are fears are confirmed as he tells that his father is crying. We still aren’t told who has died, but are beginning to try and guess that it will be a close relative. Heaney tells us that Jim Evans said ‘it was a hard blow’ we think if it as emotionally or was it a hard blow to the head. We learnt in the sixth stanza that Heaney hasn’t seen his brother for about six weeks because of school. He also describes the appearance of his brothers’ body which is pale complexion and ‘poppy bruise’
The final stanza stands out as it is one line long and is very powerful. There is an element of shock for the reader as we discover who has died and that is a mere age of four years old. In conclusion both of these poems deal with childhood memories. Heaney’s’ poem is more sad and we learn it effects him emotionally. Duffy’s poem is an experience I think we all go through and we can deal with. I prefer ‘Mid Term Break’ as it affected me more emotionally as I can not sympathise with him. I think the poem is written really well as he builds up the tension that he felt.