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English Lang.&Lit. Poetry Comparison

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    • Thread Starter

    I have two poems (Seamus Heaney Mid-Term Break and Night Drive), one has 4 stanzas with 4 lines, the other consists of 8 stanzas, 7 with triplets and the last stanza a single line on its own; how can I compare the structure of the two, I don't know what to say!

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    Just quoting in Puddles the Monkey so she can move the thread if needed
    (Original post by Puddles the Monkey)

    When thinking about poetic structure we tend to consider the following:-
    i. the physical lines of the poem.
    ii. Caesura which is punctuation in other places than at the end of a line.
    iii. Enjambment: both verse as well as line.

    The purpose of poetic structure is essentially to highlight the poem’s theme and purpose. And therefore we also tend to take into account the contribution of such elements as the words, sounds, images and connotations and indeed the physical layout of the lines of the poem.

    Comparing the structure between “Mid-Term Break” and “Night Drive”

    It is quite likely that both poems deal with real situations:-
    a) Mid-Term Break the death of his younger brother Christopher in February 1953.
    b) A trip to Europe - when I am not sure - and his missing his wife Marie who he has left behind in Italy.

    I would prefer not to go into substantial detail, because have said what I already have should give you a way into your answer. However consider the following:-

    a) There is no verse enjambment in Night Drive. Verses 1 to 3 describe moments on that drive and particular sensations Heaney experienced.
    b) Verse 4 towards which verses 1 to 3 lead to.
    c) The repetition of “ordinariness” which probably is an understatement. If it is Marie that is being referred to then it is unlikely Heaney considers her ordinary.
    d) Think about the following words: whitened, promised, groaning, seeds, smouldered, loin. They are most likely metaphorical within the context of the poem.
    e) The central image of the poem is that throughout the drive he has not been able to get her out of his mind.
    f) This is a positive and joyful poem.

    a) Mid-Term Break is very different. This is a poem written when approaching the tenth anniversary of Christopher’s death.
    b) There is verse enjambment. Verses 3 to 5 are linked together. This is fitting because these verses describe Seamus returning back to the house and what he saw there.
    c) Verses 6 and 7 also have enjambment because they describe the following day when he goes to see his brother.
    d) Unlike Night Drive, Mid-Term Break utilises the isolated last line. This is appropriate because the voice changes here. Verses 1 to 7 is the voice of the child Heaney. Verse 8 is the adult Heaney reflecting on his brother’s death ten years later.
    e) Mid-Term Break also utilises parenthesis in verse 2. Its use helps to give context to seeing his father crying.

    The shape of the verses in Night Drive vary. However in Mid-term Break they are rectangular - possibly suggesting what Christopher’s coffin looked like.

    Hopefully that will help.
    • Thread Starter

    That is such a massive help, thank you
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Updated: April 6, 2016
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