- Blackberry Picking
- The second part of the poem comments on how the blackberries never last as they begin to decay quickly
- The picking of the blackberries and the inevitable process of decay becomes ametaphor for other experiences
- The speaker describes how, as a child, he always felt like crying" when he found that the blackberries were ruined as, "it wasn’t fair".
- The change of tone in the second section is achieved through the contrasting language in this part of the poem.
- The sensuous descriptive language in the first section "a glossy purple clot/its flesh was sweet" changes to imagery conveying revulsion and disgust at "‘A rat-grey fungus’".
- Heaney’s use of onomatopoeic verbs such as "glutting" and "stinking" continue this sense of repulsion.
- The slow rhythm creates a reflective tone
- The speaker is looking back from an adult perspective at the lessons learnt about hope and disappointment.
- He uses sensuous imagery to describe the blackberry picking
- Round hayfields, cornfields and potato-drills/We trekked and picked until the cans were full"
- The characteristic use of countryside imagery sets the scene as the speaker shows the children’s enthusiasm by describing how far they wander as they search.
- The speaker is foreshadowing disappointment and pain with the use of more violent imagery
- The speaker’s tone changes and this is shown through the contrasting imagery and language.
- Experience teaches us that things do not always turn out as we hope or expect.
- By the end of the poem we see the disappointment that the speaker experiences when he writes in a childlike manner and structure
- "Each year I hoped they’d keep, knew they would not"
- Spoken from the point of view of the adult speaker
- Even having learned the reality of disappointment, we still harbour a certain optimism that things will turn out as we hope.
- Delightful childhood memory of blackberry picking contrasted with the decaying fruit at the end is a metaphor for the idea that pleasure and happiness are short-lived.
- The poem could represent the loss of childhood innocence on entering adulthood.
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