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Blackberrying by Sylvia Plath.

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Introduction

Blackberrying by Sylvia Plath Within the poem "Blackberrying" by Sylvia Plath, she positions herself as the lonely walker and speaker, self-consciously communicating with and reacting to nature yet all the while assuming that at her worst this may cause her immediate surroundings to justifiably consume her (by the overwhelming sea ) and that at best her surroundings are malciously indifferent. The theme of "Blackberrying," on the surface at least , is of "place." Aside from this theme of "place" and some regularity of structure there are other panoramic factors in this poem. Most striking is the underlying sense of threat and the images of willing death which are anticipated. Plath uses imagery, metaphor, simile and other many elements of poetry in this poem. The imagery is used mostly in the poem to stimulate our senses and recall our imaginations and experiences. The progress of the walk in "Blackberrying" does not describe the journey's outset, yet there is a defined middle and end. There is a definitive purpose namely to relish in and gather blackberries. The three nine-line stanzas within the work fulfil three detached purposes-the first to describe the berries and the luscious sensations experienced in their harvest; the second to define the environment and to point to failings which can exist when the berries' become overdeveloped; the third to terminate the journey and switch the mood from one of fascination and wonder to stark negative reality. ...read more.

Middle

(Line 10) As the speaker describes the birds in the wind as "Bits of burnt paper wheeling in a blown sky" their protesting voice causes her to remark-"I do not think the sea will appear at all."(Lines 12-13) Then the image of lusciousness is compromised as the poet encounters the corruption of excess as she comes to-"One bush of berries so ripe it is a bush of flies,/Hanging their blue-green bellies and their wing panes in a Chinese screen./ The honey-feast of the berries has stunned them; they believe in heaven."(Lines 15-17) The cheerful mood of the walker which seemed to exist at the commencement of the poem declines as the undertones of decay and nothingness begin to take over the poet's outlook. The reader is left unsettled because of the image of flies, which are usually seen around decay and death. The third stanza has the colorful image of laundry slapping her in the face and a mechanical image of silversmiths working with an "intractable metal." (Line-20) These images are after the beauty of the natural images. There is a strong image of the path, which ends at the "hills' northern face, and the face is orange rock," but the view is of "nothing, nothing but a great space." (Line 19) emphasizes the empty and bleak mood of the poem. ...read more.

Conclusion

This airy positive view suddenly collapses within the last stanza into a form of gloomy certainty with the swift discontinuation of the lane and its replacement by intimidating images of the nihilistic cliffs and ominous oblivion of the sea- this could be referred to as a death image. There is a path in Sylvia Plath's "Blackberrying" that the speaker takes to the sea, where poem's end is matched to land's end, where we stand enchanted by the rhythms. This path in "Blackberrying" is, a path in progress. "Intractable"-by inviting the substance in, by letting it repeat, bear out the raw matter of itself. She has found a way to "tract,"-it draws, it connects, it manages, it discusses itself. Like most other good poems, it is about poetry, whatever else is at issue. The intractability sends us back, in search of what matters, though the matter itself seems resistant to meaning. "Blackberrying" tries to celebrate the fruitfulness of nature-the temporarily comfortable yet despair-prone poetic voice being abruptly overwhelmed by a sense of pointlessness and ruin at the end of the piece. On first reading "Blackberrying" with its delightful images of innocent activity during a late summer day, I shared the poet's own disappointment as her short walk came to an end and she was swamped by a sudden feeling of hopelessness so that I found myself wishing she had just turned her back on the sea and retraced her steps while picking blackberries this time on the left mainly. ...read more.

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