Blackberry Picking- Seamus Heaney Analysis

1350 Words Feb 20th, 2013 6 Pages
Blackberry Picking- Seamus Heaney
Seamus Heaney is an Irish poet who was born in Mossbawn farmhouse and spent fourteen years of his childhood there. Many of his poems are based on personal experience; ‘Mid-term Break’, for example, was based on the death of his younger brother; and are laid out in settings akin to those he is familiar to. His poem, ‘Blackberry Picking’, is set on a farm and explores the simple luxury of picking fresh, ripe blackberries, his inspiration quite possibly being his own childhood.
Thematically, the poem explores the idealistic nature of childhood, and the importance of waking up to reality as one grows older. The beginning of the poem is filled with a vivid passionate recollection of the seasonal picking of
…show more content…
This makes the reader subconsciously recreate the tinkling sounds of the hard berries hitting the tinned surfaces of the milk cans, pea tins and jam pots, which in turns make the poem even more tangible and lifelike.
Although there is just about as much imagery in the second stanza as there was in the first, these images are unpleasant and dull. As opposed to the colourful descriptions given previously, the description of the hoarded berries as having a ‘rat-grey fungus (and a) stinking juice’ puts forth undesirable images of the previously sinful and sweet berries. Where the berries in the previous stanza boasted of succulent colours, they are now covered by a dull ‘grey’ fungus. This contrast in imagery runs parallel with the contrasting themes of childlike passion and the adult realisation that nothing lasts. While the first stanza is colourful, bright and indulgent like the ideals of childhood, the second stanza is filled with more realistic imagery of spoil and decay that follows any over-indulgence, which is something that children, on becoming adults, are pushed to realise.
The tone of the poem is joyous and passionate in the first stanza. The joy, however, is less to do with the eating of berries, which is mentioned just once ‘You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet’, than the picking of the same, which is mentioned multiple times. This conveys the childlike happiness felt in not just eating the blackberries, but also in the
Open Document