• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Analysis of Blackberry Picking by Seamus Heaney. Themes, language and structures

Extracts from this document...


Blackberry Picking by Seamus Heaney Story. In the childhood world of Blackberry-Picking, it is late August. If conditions are ripe, if there is "heavy ran and sun", the "blackberries... ripen". The first bite is addictive, and the children gather containers together and pick blackberries, enough to fill a bath. But they cannot eat them all, and "the fruit ferments". Every year the pattern repeats, they always gather too much. Structure The poem is divided into two parts, the first longer, describing the gathering of the blackberries, and their consumption, and the second about half that length, the ruin of the remainder. The line length is much greater than in the later poems, but Heaney makes an almost prose-like grammatical structure in Blackberry-Picking. Heaney quite often uses rhyme - "clot... knot", and near-rhyme, "sweet... in it", but without making it intrusive. Language The words, densely packed, peppered liberally with verbs and adjectives, establish the tone. It is intentionally almost too rich. ...read more.


The desire for the blackberries is half-sickening, a hunger that is more in the mind than in the stomach drives the pickers. They are possessive and greedy, picking even the unripe "green ones", filling a "bath". The disgust at the "rat-grey fungus" is half horror and half envy. How dare it destroy the "sweet flesh"? The child is desperate for more, each year he yearns for more blackberries, though he knows their fate. Poetic Devices Heaney makes extensive use of poetic devices in Blackberry-Picking. Examples of his alliteration include "first... flesh", "peppered... pricks... palms", "berries... byre", "fur... fungus", "fruit fermented... flesh" and "sweet... sour". Heaney also uses a vocabulary rich with varying sounds, so that saying the poem is rather like eating the blackberries, it is "like thickened wine". Similar sounding words are used frequently; "milk-cans, pea-tins, jampots", "hayfields, cornfields", "trekked and picked", "fungus, glutting", meaning that the poem must be read slowly to enjoy its deep rhythm. ...read more.


Every year the speaker challenges the laws of nature and "hopes they will keep". Even as the picking days are continuing the berries grow from "green" to "red" and finally "ink... up" to "big dark blobs". Finally, the blackberries corrupt. Only "at first,just one" be eaten. The pure enjoyment of the eating is counted by greed for more, until finally, most are lost to the processes of time, when they should have been left on the bush. The pain involved in getting them is increased when they are consumed by an outside force, the "fur". Theme Blackberry-Picking explores the dissatisfaction often involved in gaining an object of desire. Heaney is unveiling greed. The unrestrained quest for more of the same, for greater amounts of fulfilment leads to the destruction of the object of desire. Removed from its home in the sun, and hoarded, life is slowly destroyed, changed beyond recognition and enjoyment by hostile forces and by time. Often, however, the lesson is not learnt. A recurring delusion takes hold, where there is a perpetual consciousness that life, love and youth do not "keep", but the temptation for another try is always succumbed to. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our International Baccalaureate World Literature section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related International Baccalaureate World Literature essays

  1. Peer reviewed

    Critical Analysis of After Apple Picking by Robert Frost

    5 star(s)

    Giving the dream like quality of the poem, it is conceivable that the poet is implying that he is about to journey to heaven Vis a Vis death. Hence, the theme of sleep and death are jointly introduced through this biblical allusion.

  2. Casualty is an elegy written by Irish poet and writer Seamus Heaney. It is ...

    The poet then describes his love for the fisherman's discreet intuition-'His deadpan sidling tact, / His fisherman's quick eye / And turned observant back'; the assonance within the words 'sly' and eye', 'tact' and 'back', lending them particular emphasis, and the oxymoron found within the phrase 'turned observant back' (as one cannot possibly 'observe' something with his back turned)

  1. Commentary on Twice Shy by Seamus Heaney

    Isolated with each other an all described aspects, it seems almost jus ta matter of time before the protagonists' animalistic tensions manifest to action; as if all it takes for the banks to flood is a gentle push. Nevertheless, in either sense, water serves to maximize a sense of impending breakthrough.

  2. Duality and Hybridity are two of the various themes touched upon by Rohinton Mistry ...

    The shadows kept reminding her of the past, and she found solace in it. The 'pugree' is another major symbol which Daulat associates with Minocher. At the end of the story, when she gives it away to the young man, we can see a transformed Daulat.

  1. Commentary on Seamus Heaney's "Blackberry Picking".

    Here Heaney makes a direct linkage to murder. Murder of the blackberries, how once picked the berries will soon perish. Carrying on from this idea, Heaney moves on to explain how quickly a berry perishes. How the lusciousness of the fresh fruit fades out and 'fur'3 and 'rat grey fungus'4 set in.

  2. Heaney uses religious connotation of words in order to reveal the inevitability of falling ...

    As Adam had done, he had given into lust, lust for the berries that were "red, green, [and] hard as a knot" (line 4). Heaney vividly describes the berries in order to persuade the reader into the same lust the narrator endures.

  1. How and to what effect does the use of language empower Higgins and ...

    He may be rude, but his rudeness is not discriminating"[9] The fact that one?s articulation defines a characters position in society can be regarded as ?Victorian hypocrisy.? The upper class citizens are supposed to be the role models for the lower classes to strive for.

  2. Analysis of "Blackberry Picking" by Seamus Heaney

    The narrator starts by directly indicating the setting of the poem. In a rural area, a young child blackberry-picks in "late August" , the season of the ripening of blackberries due to 'heavy rain and sun'. Heaney mentions colours like green, red, and purple to depict the different stages of blackberry ripening.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work