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The speaker in the poem has been called home from his residential school due to the death of his younger brother - the reason for calling the poem "Mid-Term Break."
The poem is structured as a series of three lines with no rhyme scheme and no set rhythm pattern.
References to death begin with the school bells "knelling classes to a close" and continuing through the "snowdrops" outside the room when the speaker visits his brother's body in the coffin.
There seems to be a lack of emotion on the speaker's part - he notes that his father, who "had always taken funerals in his stride," is crying and comments on his mother's "angry tearless sighs," but the speaker's major emotion seems to be embarrassment with the talk of the neighbors. At the end of the poem, he is struck by the irony of his four-year-old brother being buried in "A four foot box, a foot for every year."
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