Skip to Content

Top Irish Poem: Mid-Term Break, by Seamus Heaney

Share this 🍀😍

Welcome, this week I have number 3 from my list of top 100 Irish poems. A deep and meaningful Irish poem.  The poem is about Heaney’s brother, who was killed by a car in 1953 when he was only 4 years old, and Heaney was only 14.

I have been sharing these Irish poems every week, and this one certainly will bring a tear to your eye. The poem is direct, and Heaney holds nothing back. The last line sent shivers down my spine. 

I send these Irish poems out every week in my weekly dose of the Irish email newsletter. You can join it here, only one email every Friday. 

I am not going to say much more about the poem except to have a read: 

Mid-Term Break

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
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.
If you enjoyed this Irish poem, be sure to pop over to my list of top 100 Irish poems here. 

Share this 🍀😍