Blackberries

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate December 2001

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In the poem "Blackberry Picking,"� the speaker uses the experience of picking blackberries to show how naïve and greedy children and all people can be; by using powerful imagery, an abundance of alliteration, and rhyme.

In the first stanza, the speaker uses intense imagery: "glossy,"� "clot,"� "knot,"� "flesh,"� and "thickened wine"�(ll. 3,4,5,6); to draw the reader in initially, and show that this poem will prove to be one full of detail and meaning. He then shows that the poem is about a child's experience by listing objects that a child would use to gather blackberries: "milk cans,"� "pea tins,"� and "jam pots"�(l. 9); using an allusion to a fairy tale, "palms sticky as Bluebeard's"�(l. 16); and using language that a child would use to refer to the image of the blackberries, "Like a plate of eyes"�(l. 15). These lines that show that the poem is about a child's experience will set up for a deeper and more complicated meaning later in the poem. The speaker goes into great detail in describing the manner in which the children greedily gather all of the blackberries they can find, even picking the ones that are not yet ripe. Alliteration is used in abundance in the first stanza: "milk cans, pea tins, jam pots,"� "bleached "¦ boots,"� and "big dark blobs burned"�(ll. 9,10,14). This alliteration causes the reader to slow down and savor the poem, as the speaker savors the taste of the blackberries. The speaker states that their "hands were peppered/ With thorn pricks"�(l. 16), demonstrating how much pain they went through to get the desired blackberries.

Though the second stanza is much shorter, this is where the speaker pulls together everything he has spoken about and thoughtfully projects his attitude toward childish nature. He states that he and the other children stored the blackberries in a "bath"�(l. 18), but then "found a fur."� This statement is ironic, because the choice of the word bath would insinuate cleanliness, however, the blackberries rotted anyway. Another ironic choice of words is in l. 19 where he states that the fungus was filling their "cache."� The word cache is defined as being an area of storage used to preserve materials. In this case the blackberries are not preserved. Line 22 states "I always felt like crying. It wasn't fair."� This line contributes to the childlike aspect of the poem in the way that children often cry about things that are not "fair."� The word fair in itself is incredible diction. It can be used to say that the situation was unjust and their toil was for nothing; because the blackberries they hoped to consume were consumed by the fungus as a result of time. It can also be used to say that the appearance of the blackberries was not a pleasing one. Finally, the speaker uses a heroic couplet to show the importance of the last two lines. In these last two lines he states how naive they were to hope they could keep the blackberries, even though they knew that every year the blackberries would spoil.

The speaker in "Blackberry-Picking"� shows how he feels that the act of picking blackberries is demonstrative of human, especially childlike, greed and naivety.

Word Count: _530_