In What Ways Does Heaney Convey Feelings of Disappointment in ‘Blackberry Picking?

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  • Topic: Blackberry, Fruit, Berry
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  • Published : February 27, 2013
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In what ways does Heaney convey feelings of disappointment in ‘Blackberry Picking?’

In Seamus Heaney’s poem “Blackberry Picking’ the poet vividly recreates a seemingly unimportant event in which he goes blackberry picking as a child. However by the end of the poem this experience acquires increased significance. Throughout Heaney’s description of this event we are made aware of the theme, Heaney’s childhood hopes and dreams in contrast to the harsh realities of life. This theme is effectively conveyed through the tone of excitement and anticipation in the first stanza while picking the berries, which transforms into an atmosphere of disappointment and regret in the second stanza as the berries have rotted. Heaney is able to develop this supposed insignificant event using techniques such as language, sentence structure, imagery, contrast and tone in order to create sympathy within the reader and allow them to reflect upon the transient nature of childhood ideals.

During the first half of the poem Heaney makes no attempt to sentimentalise the event that is Blackberry picking, as we can tell when he writes, ‘Our hands were peppered with thorn pricks,” the recurring plosive ‘p’ sound in this sentence allows us to hear the skin of his hands being punctured yet still we can tell that young Heaney was enthralled by Blackberry Picking. The first stanza of the poem also has numerous examples of youthful imagery. The boy anxiously awaits the first 'glossy purple clot,’ almost jewel like, conveying how significant and majestic these berries were to the young Heaney. He uses this metaphor in order to compare the blackberries to blood, a live-giving force that is full of goodness. Some of the blackberries are 'green, hard as a knot' and this image portrays the boy himself, young and innocent, not yet mature himself. The blood imagery continues throughout the poem with 'summer's blood' illustrating a dominance of the colour red throughout. The reader associates these...
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