Topics: Seamus Heaney, BlackBerry, Fruit Pages: 4 (1282 words) Published: February 6, 2011
“Blackberry-picking” by Irish poet Seamus Heaney is about the futility of human life and the misfortune in its quickly passing nature. This poem, rich in vivid detail and diction tells us how young Heaney, who is the speaker in this case, begins to realize that nothing in life can last, especially the things we love. The poem centers around memories of his childhood, growing up on a farm in the Irish countryside. Here, he recalls the yearly experience of picking wild blackberries in late summer. The "lust" for blackberries is that of blood lust. Their "flesh was sweet", like "blood". The children are ready to suffer a great deal of pain to satisfy "that hunger". At this point, Heaney's tone becomes distinctly ominous - the blackberries are "like a plate of eyes", their palms are stained with the juice, as "Bluebeard's" were stained with blood. The concluding part of the poem is a bleak relation of the half-innocent hunger of the blackberry-pickers, and their shock and resentment at their prize's ruin. They "hoard" the blackberries in the way that the "rat-grey fungus" gluts on it. It continues in the irritable, grouchy tone of an upset child - " It was not fair that all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot" and concludes in a more vague, foreboding, accepting tone, revealing that even the child knew the berries would not "keep". The lush rhythm and language of the poem leads to a generous, but slightly harsh mood, as if the reader is immersed in the "heavy rain and sun" of "late August". The longing for the blackberries is like a desire that is more in the mind than in the stomach that drives the pickers. They are possessive and hungry, picking even the unripe "green ones", filling a "bath". The disgust at the "rat-grey fungus" is half shock and half greed. How dare it spoil the "sweet flesh"? The child is desperate for more, each year he craves for more blackberries, though he knows what lies in their fate. The poem is divided into two halves, the first longer,...
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