Black Berries

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Blackberrying vs. Blackberries
In the poems “Blackberrying” and “Blackberries” the authors Sylvia Plath and Yusef Komunyakaa both use diction, imagery, and figurative language to establish symbols that work to impact the overall tone of the poem. In “BlackBerrying” Sylvia Plath uses blackberries to symbolize her loneliness. While Komunyakaa uses blackberries to symbolize his innocence in a world were the rich look down on the poor.

First of all, Plath and Komunyakaa both use symbols that impact the overall tone of their poems. Sylvia Plath demonstrates her emotional struggle and her need of company by stating she has a bond “blood sisterhood” with the berries and were she believes “they must love” her (Line 8). She is alone in the woods and the blackberries which are symbolic of imaginary people are her only company. This emphasizes her loneliness since she is imagining that the blackberries are people who are offering her their love. The thought of being alone for Plath is a fear she has and to have blackberries as your company is how she creates a frightening tone. She continues this frightening tone when she sees the “choughs in black” which she describes as cacophonous. Choughs are black birds with red feet, symbolic for death, and their cacophonous (discordant) noise which is symbolic for her inner voice screaming at her things she doesn’t want to hear. Clearly, Plath through the use of these words is able to show how she is depressed and afraid. Later on she see’s a “bush of flies” indicating the berries are rotten and the choughs are feasting on this (Line 15-16). The bush of flies is probably symbolic for her soul, deteriorating because she is depressed and the choughs in this case are symbolic of loneliness and death which is slowly eating away her soul. This further increases the dark and ominous tone and Plath is able to show this to the reader through the use of symbols and their emotional impact. In contrast, Komunyakaa uses diction and symbols to show how his innocence is taken away by a society where he is looked down upon. Komunyakaa demonstrates his innocence when he eats berries with one hand and with the other puts them in the gallon as part of his work (Line 9-10). He like any child takes work as play and see’s no wrong in doing hard labor yet he is unaware that he like many others is being taken advantage of. The blackberries in here symbolize his innocence which helps build up the poem to the part where he becomes aware of the truth. When, Komunyakaa has collected enough he goes to the city to sell the blackberries, here is where he finds himself “Limboed between worlds” (Line 18). Komunyakaa references the Bible throughout the poem, for instance the Limbo is where non-Christians go after death and this limbo is in between Earth and Heaven. The limbo is symbolic for his feeling of being stuck between two worlds since he has now seen the contrast between the rich (Heaven) and poor (Earth).This symbolism plays an important role in impacting the tone because his idea of life as he is experiencing, isn’t what he thought it to be. Komunyakaa realizes how the poor are belittled and looked down on when the girl and boy are “in the wide seat Smirking” (Line 21-23). His usage of words are effective in letting the reader know that the girl and boy are symbolic of rich “wealthy” since he describes their car as wide and with air-conditioning. This usage of words lets the reader know that the girl and boy are more privileged since they seem to have an attitude where they feel superior to Komunyakaa because of what they own. Also, the reader can see the disillusioned tone where Komunyakaa is looked at as inferior and it’s then he realizes his people are just slaves that work for the rich.

Furthermore, Plath and Komunyakaa use imagery to convey how symbols impact the tone of their poems. Plath, while alone in the woods see’s “bits of burnt paper wheeling in a blown sky” (Line 11). The “bits of paper” are...
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