The Saffron Picker
The Saffron Picker by Judith Beveridge is a reflective poem that explores the themes of time and balance. Using the Buddhist sense of detachment and compassion Beveridge delves into the mind of a saffron picker, whose minute existence is used to explore the aforementioned themes. Through Beveridge’s short poem, the reader learns of the woman’s struggle to feed her family and how, to feed them she must put in hours of work picking crocuses to make saffron. Beveridge’s voice in The Saffron Picker is empathetic but at the same time observational and detached. The subject matter itself is quite sombre, but the way the poem is composed engages the reader’s emotions and causes the poem to be shrouded in a mood of helplessness as readers feel that the saffron picker is disheartened at her life. When reading the poem analytically though, it is clear that the poet herself refrains from passing judgement on the situation. She is empathetic, as shown in the line “Soon she’ll crouch again above each crocus” which indicates that the poet is telling the story through the eyes of another person. But also simply observes, using descriptions that evoke an emotional reader response. The phrase “The zero’s of her children’s mouths” is technically observational but Beveridge’s use of zero’s is interpreted in the reader’s mind as hunger and nothingness. This causes the reader to feel that the story is one of sadness and injustice. The voice of the poet and the mood of the poem are uniform throughout the entire poem helping to symbolise the daily grind of the saffron picker’s life. One of the main themes Beveridge explores is that of equality in the world. She explores this using mathematical terms and balance as metaphors. In this particular poem mathematical references such as “weight opposing” and “fields of unfair equivalence” are used to indicate a lack of equilibrium in the world the saffron picker is working in. The use of mathematical terms helps portray...
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