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• The poem’s final line is both poignant and skilful. We learn that the size of the coffin is the measure of the child’s life. The line is almost dependent upon monosyllabic words, which lends each word emphasis. Consider the contrast between the earlier sections of the poem in which he remembers when he first arrived home and the final section of the poem where, alone with his infant brother, Heaney can be natural.
Form and Structure • The poem has a clear formal structure. It is written in three line verses with a loose iambic metre. There are occasional rhymes but the last two lines form a rhyming couplet, and emphasise the brevity of the infant’s life.
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The poem is about memory so it might usefully be compared with Miracle on St David’s Day or any of the other Heaney poems. It is about family so it could be compared with Follower, Digging, Once Upon a Time, Old Man, Old Man… It is written from a child’s point of view so it could be compared to The Barn.