Mid-Term Break Poem by Seamus Heaney

Mid-Term Break

Rating: 3.8

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.

Iris Hoekstra 23 December 2012

This poem never fails to break my heart. Stunning.

190 114 Reply
May Obrien 30 October 2013

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

107 49 Reply
Pablo eeeee 02 May 2019


3 0 Reply
Bill Wright 01 September 2016

Wow, what a poem, presumably autobiographical about the death of his little brother.

14 5 Reply
Angel Dzidula-komla 02 August 2015

Whispers informed strangers I was the eldest,

10 14 Reply
Douglas Scotney 15 February 2015

what the brain coughs up.

7 16 Reply
Kim Barney 15 February 2015

This is one of the saddest poems ever. Now I need to go read some Ogden Nash or Shel Siverstein to cheer myself up! Roald Dahl also has some funny ones.

14 11 Reply
Seamus Heaney

Seamus Heaney

Castledàwson, County Londonderry
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