In order to build a convincing argument (A01), it is important that writing is concise, unambiguous and isn’t repetitive.

The paragraphs below lack clarity and are repetitive. Highlight ambiguous, repetitive phrases and then re-write the paragraphs using more precise language.

When you have finished, compare your responses with the suggestions provided.

Unseen poem ‘Mid-Term Break’ by Seamus Heaney

Poem

I sat all morning in the college sick bay
Counting bells knelling classes to a close.
At two o'clock our neighbours 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

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.


Mid-Term Break by Seamus Heaney © Farrar, Straus & Giroux https://bit.ly/2Ci8ZsL

A main theme within Seamus Heaney’s poem ‘Mid-Term Break’ is the emotional turmoil that death brings. In ‘Mid-Term Break’ he explores feelings and emotions which are focused upon premature death.

The title itself, ‘Mid-Term Break’, could perhaps imply that the family is disjointed and broken following the death of Heaney’s brother. The mother is upset and broken by the death of her son but tries to remain strong following the death of her child. Despite this display of strength, however, the knowledge that she coughed out ‘angry tearless sighs’ implies that, in grief, there is a confusion of emotions.

Grief is a powerful and all-consuming emotion which can break even the strongest of people. This is apparent when Heaney confesses that his father had ‘always taken funerals in his stride’ but, on this occasion, Heaney met his ‘father crying’. His father is upset and crying at the death of his son which shows how upset he is.

Suggestions

A main theme within Seamus Heaney’s poem ‘Mid-Term Break’ is the emotional turmoil that death brings. Indeed, the harmony of the family home is disturbed by an unexpected tragedy: the death of a child.

The title itself, ‘Mid-Term Break’, could perhaps imply that the family is disjointed and broken following the death of Heaney’s brother. However, this sense of fracture is juxtaposed with the notion of unity as Heaney’s mother is depicted as holding ‘my [Heaney’s] hand/ in hers’: she is literally and metaphorically trying to keep the family together. Despite this display of strength, however, the knowledge that she coughed out ‘angry tearless sighs’ implies that, in grief, there is a confusion of emotions.

Grief is a powerful and all-consuming emotion which can break even the strongest of people. This is apparent when Heaney confesses that his father had ‘always taken funerals in his stride’ but, on this occasion, Heaney met his ‘father crying’. A disconcerting sense of chaos shapes this portrayal as Heaney’s father – a symbol of cold, and arguably emotionless, masculinity – is reduced to excessive emotion.