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Commentary on Seamus Heaney's "Blackberry Picking".

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Blackberry Picking Seamus Heaney, an Irish poet was born on the 13th of April 1939 in Northern Ireland. Born into an agricultural family, Heaney spent majority of his childhood amongst trees, plants, crops and cultivation. Seamus Heaney's poems depict his childhood i.e. are an allegory of his childhood. Set in the Irish Farms the poem is written in first person. Through 'Blackberry Picking' Heaney recalls his yearly practice of picking the Blackberries late summer. On the first read, the theme of the poem may seem to be 'Blackberries', but through his poetry Heaney also addresses the aspects of Greed and End. 'Blackberry Picking' begins by presenting the picking of Blackberries. Heaney makes abundant use adjectives to describe the succulence of the berries and the pleasure that waits. He refers to them as 'sweet flesh', illustrating their tenderness and flavour. Heaney uses a simile to compare the taste of the blackberry to that of thickened wine. Phrases such as 'Like...was in it'1, exemplify the brightness and warmth it brings with it. How it was specific to summer and lit up the atmosphere. Heaney makes use of many adjectives of colour, suggesting that the excitement was such that the collectors picked up any berry they saw; purple, red and green (unripe). The following lines give a picture of the sheer joy and excitement the berries brought with them. ...read more.


'Late August...byre'8 describes the picking of blackberries, the hope and the enjoyment. The second half of the poem i.e. 'But when...not'9 portrays disappointment and grief. How end is inevitable. Heaney throughout the poem makes use of enjambment and the poem has a prose like grammatical structure. The lines are short and have sudden ends. The abrupt endings give the poem a bouncy rhythm and a continuation of thoughts. Heaney many a time makes use of rhyme in the poem. For instance 'clot'10 and 'knot'11 , here there is complete rhyme but in many places such as 'sweet and in it'12 and 'sun and ripen'13 there is partial rhyme. The rhyme adds to the rhythm of the poem. The mood of the poem in the first half is of indulgence and greed i.e. happiness and excitement whereas in the second half it is of sadness and disappointment. Indulgence and greed so to say as the collectors are shown picking up even the unripe berries. The tone of the poem towards the beginning is of joy and excitement as the children seek the blackberry unscrupulously. Thereafter in the middle segment of the poem the tone becomes worrying as the blackberries are described as 'like a plate of eyes'14 and are compared to Bluebeard. Towards the end, the tone of the poem is huffy as the child is saddened by the rotting of his cache. ...read more.


Heaney makes use of similar sounding words such as 'milk cans and pea tins'25 , 'hayfields and cornfields'26 and 'trekked and picked'27, this gives the poem a reverberating tempo. To conclude, 'Blackberry Picking' highlights important aspects of human greed and end. Human beings are insatiable beings and it is difficult to fulfil their desires. One of the misconceptions that we have is that once we achieve/accumulate something, it is going to remain with us all our life. Everything has a life span and thereafter its end is inevitable. This poem has taught me that we should be happy with what we have and not accumulate regardless of need. We should appreciate what we have. Our unrealistic hope will bring a lot of disappointment. It has taught me to accept change, as everything I have or will have will eventually come to an end. 'Blackberry Picking' is a straight forward thought provoking poem by Seamus Heaney. 1 Line 6 2 Lines 15-16 3 Line 18 4 Line 19 5 Line 19 6 Line 6 7 Line 24 8 Lines 1- 17 9 Lines 18 - 24 10 Line 3 11 Line 4 12 Lines 5- 6 13 Lines 1-2 14 Line 15 15 Line 3 16 Line 13 17 Line 23 18 Line 20 19 Line 16 20 Line 5 21 Line 21 22 Line 5 23 Lines 15 - 16 24 Line 21 25 Line 9 26 Line 11 27 Line 12 ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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