Blackberry Picking

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In the poem “Blackberry-Picking” by Seamus Heaney, the use of multiple tones, diction, imagery, and metaphors are used to convey a deeper understanding of the experience of the poem. Heaney also uses these literary devices to help express his theme. The theme implies that pleasure does not last and decays like everything else.

Throughout this poem, Heaney uses multiple tones to help get a better idea of the experience of picking blackberries. In the first stanza he is excited and enthusiastic about going to pick the blackberries. By describing the minute details about the berries being a “glossy purple clot” and “its flesh was sweet” show how enthusiastic he gets when picking the blackberries. In the second stanza the tone begins as a disappointed and bereft one. After the “rat-grey fungus” made all their berries and juice rot he shows his disappointment when he says, “I always felt like crying.” Heaney ends the poem by saying “each year I hoped they’d keep, knew they would not” which presents a tone of acceptance. Using these three tonal shifts we get a clearer view of how the author feels about picking the blackberries.

The detailed imagery Heaney uses gives us a vivid image of picking blackberries. The first stanza is filled with images of life and vitality. Many images related to blood are used, such as “a glossy purple clot.” He also portrays an image by using the simile, “Like thickened wine: summer’s blood was in it.” This relates back to his theme in the way that the pleasures of summer do not last forever and soon end even though we wish otherwise. He also uses images of flesh to give a better picture showing that the blackberries looked like “a plate of eyes.” He uses another simile, “our palms sticky as Bluebeard’s”, to express just how hard they had worked to gather all the blackberries.

The final stanza is filled with images of death, rotting, and decay which link to his tone of disgust and disappointment. The “rat-grey...
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