“Poems can capture important moments in our lives” Discuss how the poets have described the ending of childhood innocence in at least two poems you have studied. I am going to analyse two poems which share the theme of the end of the era of childhood and children growing up. The poems are Mid-term Break by Seamus Heaney and In Mrs Tilscher’s Class by Carol Ann Duffy. Each of the poets reflects on memories from childhood concerning important events which took place and marked the end of childhood as they knew it.
Seamus Heaney is a Northern Irish poet, from a traditional Irish background, which I feel I can relate to. Heaney was born in N Ireland in Co Londonderry and later studied English at Queen’s University in Belfast. Throughout his poetry, colloquial words and typical Northern Irish phrases are used, which produce a response not only in a reader like myself who shares his cultural background, but also those from differing cultural backgrounds, as evidenced in the worldwide popularity of his poetry.
Carol Ann Duffy is a very successful Scottish poet from Glasgow. She was born in 1955 and is known for writing simple, easily understood pieces of literature. In the past she has given public readings of her own poetry, which have proved popular with the audience, in particular the great enthusiasm with which she reads. “Mid-term Break” is a poem filled with sad phrases and negativity, concerning the death of Heaney’s four year old brother.
The death of Heaney’s young brother left a great impact on Heaney, as he himself was still a school boy. His family were also devastated at the death of such a young child. Heaney states, “In the porch I met my father crying”. In the opening paragraphs of each poem, there is a contrast of feelings as each of the poets thinks back to memories of how each experienced school. Carol Ann Duffy describes how the teacher Mrs Tilscher is able to engage the children with Geography, for example, “chanted the scenery, Tana, Ethopia, Khartoum, Aswan.
That for an hour,…. “. This shows the effect that Mrs Tilscher had as a teacher, that Carol Ann Duffy was able to sit in a classroom and listen for one hour. In contrast to Duffy’s opening memories, Heaney’s first lines are filled with anxiety as he sits “all morning in the college sick bay, Counting bells knelling classes to a close”. Heaney uses alliteration here to emphasise the idea of a funeral.