Mr Dettman – 9En1 – “Blackberry-Picking” – Unseen Poem Analysis

Due: Thursday, 5th February

Read Blackberry-Picking, by Seamus Heaney (below).

C/D Grade:

Choose three clear uses of ‘imagery’, in the poem.  Explain what effect they have on the poet’s Seamus Heaney’s opinion of blackberry-picking.

Discuss two other examples of ‘poetic techniques‘ used in the poem, and comment on how they contribute to the poem’s effectiveness.  Use two P.E.E. + D paragraphs to do this.

A/B Grade:

Explore how Seamus Heaney presents his ideas about blackberry-picking.  You should focus on using evidence, and respond in the P.E.E. + D paragraph format to do this.

Create one example of a metaphor or simile, which would give a strong image of what blackberry-picking might be like for someone who had never done it.

Extension:

What is the ‘poet-laureate’? Look back through the list of Poet Laureates through the years. Who do you recognise, and what do you notice about the list of poets?

Blackberry-Picking

By Seamus Heaney

for Philip Hobsbaum

Late August, given heavy rain and sun
For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.
You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
Like thickened wine: summer’s blood was in it
Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for
Picking. Then red ones inked up and that hunger
Sent us out with milk cans, pea tins, jam-pots
Where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots.

Round hayfields, cornfields and potato-drills
We trekked and picked until the cans were full
Until the tinkling bottom had been covered
With green ones, and on top big dark blobs burned
Like a plate of eyes. Our hands were peppered
With thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard’s.
We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre.
But when the bath was filled we found a fur,
A rat-grey fungus, glutting on our cache.
The juice was stinking too. Once off the bush
The fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour.
I always felt like crying. It wasn’t fair
That all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.
Each year I hoped they’d keep, knew they would not.

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15 thoughts on “Mr Dettman – 9En1 – “Blackberry-Picking” – Unseen Poem Analysis

  1. Jonah

    The writer uses simile’s to describe the blackberries. “Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.
    .“ This creates imagery and tells us more about the scene which makes us imagine clearer what it was like. It also creates a contrast between the types of berries. This could possibly signify his mood.

    Also, he uses metaphors to possibly reflect his mood. “You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet.” A metaphor here makes us understand more why he is picking blackberries. He uses appetising words like “Flesh” and “Sweet” to exaggerate the flavour of the food. This phrase could also be interpreted as being personification as he is referring to flesh, giving the berry human characteristics.

    Reply
  2. Katie

    A/B Grade:

    Explore how Seamus Heaney presents his ideas about blackberry-picking. You should focus on using evidence, and respond in the P.E.E. + D paragraph format to do this.

    Create one example of a metaphor or simile, which would give a strong image of what blackberry-picking might be like for someone who had never done it.

    Heaney presents his ideas for blackberry picking like he’s really specific to this one blackberry, but almost overly pleased with the end product. An example of this is “Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.” This explains that he is happy with this one blackberry and favouritises it against the others.

    *note* I’ve never been blackberry picking, but this is how I imagine it to be like:
    The blackberries were a water balloon; filled with the most wonderful juice.
    (It’s Katie L, it won’t let me change my name)

    Reply
  3. julie

    Seamus Heaney in the poem of Blackberry-Picking, uses an range of poetic techniques , one example of this is similes they can be used to create an range of imagery. One example in the text is “Like thickened wine” this exaggerates that the berries have human features of flesh as it say it bleeds . When you think of wine it very similar to blood it is same colour (but not thick enough so this is why the writer has added thickened wine to give it the human features of blood) .So by not saying it bleeds makes the reader think more and makes then under stand what blackberry are really like by producing a strong image in their head.
    Another poetic device used in this piece is an metaphor. An example of this is “flesh was sweet”,this metaphor emphasizes that the berry has human
    characteristics. By making the berry have flesh the reader who has never been blackberry picking can relate to it as it uses personification. This makes the reader have clear imagery in there head so they can under stand the poem.
    Another poetic device is personification the writer uses this so the reader who has never been blackberry picking can relate. An example of this is “The fruit fermented, the sweet flesh” by using the word “flesh” you think of many things that relate with berries. One example is when you think of flesh you think of blood so red is main colour of berry so non blackberry pickers can relate also you cut a wound or berry there is a blood like liquid so by using this metaphor many people can relate. This makes the reader understand more so the images will stick longer in their head .

    Reply
    1. julie

      Seamus Heaney in the poem of Blackberry-Picking, uses an range of poetic techniques , one example of this is similes they can be used to create an range of imagery. One example in the text is “Like thickened wine” this exaggerates that the berries have human features of flesh as it say it bleeds . When you think of wine it very similar to blood it is same colour (but not thick enough so this is why the writer has added thickened wine to give it the human features of blood) .So by not saying it bleeds makes the reader think more and makes then under stand what blackberry are really like by producing a strong image in their head.

      Another poetic device used in this piece is an metaphor. An example of this is “flesh was sweet”,this metaphor emphasizes that the berry has human
      characteristics. By making the berry have flesh the reader who has never been blackberry picking can relate to it as it uses personification. This makes the reader have clear imagery in there head so they can under stand the poem.

      Another poetic device is personification the writer uses this so the reader who has never been blackberry picking can relate. An example of this is “The fruit fermented, the sweet flesh” by using the word “flesh” you think of many things that relate with berries. One example is when you think of flesh you think of blood so red is main colour of berry so non blackberry pickers can relate also you cut a wound or berry there is a blood like liquid so by using this metaphor many people can relate. This makes the reader understand more so the images will stick longer in their head .

      Reply
    2. julie

      They were paragraphs but just left gaps at begging so it does not look like it .All gaps in the begging are GONE so it does not look like paragraphs but I did write in them. There are three paragraphs.

      Reply
  4. Lucy Branton :D

    The first clear use of imagery in this poem is in the first stanza, in the third line: “Glossy purple clot”. This is a pleasant description, giving the impression that the poet likes the item, as he is not using negative adjectives to describe this noun. The description of the “glossy purple clot” is interpreted in an image of a single, round, possibly wet berry, alone on a single branch.
    The second use of imagery is in the last line of the first stanza: “where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots”. “Briars scratched” is an example of an anthropomorphic verb, as scratching is something that animals do, and plants don’t intentionally do so. This gives an image of a briar patch reaching up and scratching ankles, and the “wet grass” bleaching the boots bright colours, ruining and soaking them. The imagery is provoked by negative adjectives: “scratched”, “bleached” and “wet”.
    The last use of imagery is in the second stanza, from the middle of the fifth line to the sixth: “…Our hands were peppered with thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard’s”. “Peppered” gives the image of lots of exaggeratedly spread out thorns, “peppered” here and there, and “palms sticky as Bluebeard’s” is a simile, as it directly compared the hands to another’s. This description implies that blackberry picking can bring chaos, disorder, and untidiness.
    Alliteration is used in the second stanza: “big dark blobs burned”. There is a repetition of the consonants b and d, which has the effect of adding rhythm to the poem. Alliteration adds rhythm to the poem by taking advantage of syllables in the word. The words are all one count syllables starting (50% of the time) with the same consonant, giving a good effect on the poem by giving it a rhythm, and a pace to set the poem on.
    Another poetic technique that the poet uses is enjambment. He uses this a lot, moving from one sentence to the other, then pausing halfway through the next to include a full stop or a comma: “Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for
    Picking. Then red ones inked up and that hunger…”
    This gives a rambling, descriptive effect on the poem, but can also be confusing and difficult for the poet to use. It confuses me as of why he continues on the next line to stop with a full stop at the next word, then continue on the same line. Therefore, as it is confusing, I don’t think the poet has used it as effectively as he could of.
    The poet seems quite passionate about blackberry picking, and also emotional when the blackberries rot: “I always felt like crying. It wasn’t fair”. You can tell that he is upset when the blackberries rot because of the negative verb: “crying”. He also thinks that the first blackberries are the best, the sweetest: “you ate that first one and its flesh was sweet”. This is a good idea because of the positive adjective “sweet”. Overall the poet wishes to present his ideas in a positive light, such as when August comes, there is a lot of excitement waiting for the first blackberry to ripen, to eat the berries and to go picking. But there is also disappointment, and, in the poets eyes, unfairness, in the fact that the juicy, sweet delicacies do not keep for as long as everyone wants them to, and they rot, leaving a horrid, pungent smell.
    One example of a metaphor or simile, which would give a strong image of what blackberry-picking might be like for someone who had never done it, would be: “Like thickened wine: summer’s blood was in it”. This is a simile, and would suggest to someone that had never gone blackberry picking before that although it is grueling work, the results are sweet and plentiful. This is suggested in the simile: “like thickened wine”. Wine is known around the world to be a sweet treat, which you mustn’t have too much of. Therefore, the simile must have a positive meaning behind it.

    Sorry my answers so long, i didn’t know whether we had to do both the D/C grade if we wanted to to do the A/B grade as well, but I now realised we didn’t have too, but by then it was too late, so here’s the extended first edition :3

    Reply
  5. chessielongland

    A/B Grade:

    In the poem ‘Blackberry Picking’ by Seamus Heaney, the poet’s ideas are portrayed very compellingly as a negative opinion towards blackberry picking. For example, I quote ‘I always felt like crying. It wasn’t fair’, In this stanza of the poem, Heaney is talking about the negativity resulting in blackberry picking (e.g- the fermented fruit from the blackberry bush.)

    Concerning poetic techniques, Seamus Heaney uses many. I am going to comment on his use of similes; one being ‘among others, red, green, hard as a knot’. I think that Seamus Heaney uses similes in his work to compare and contrast the feeling of picking blackberries; another reason why Heaney might use similes is to make the whole process of eating and picking blackberries obvious to people who are yet to pick blackberries.

    (Side Note- I picked blackberries ages ago but never ate them because I don’t like blackberries so, sorry if the metaphor isn’t that great!)

    The berry on my tongue was like a fruit capsule, waiting to be burst.

    Extension-

    N01) The poet-laureate is a famous poet appointed as a member of the British Royal Household.

    N02) From this list of poet-laureates, I recognize Carol Ann Duffy (Stealing) and Alfred Tennyson (Mariana.)

    N03) In this list, I notice that most of the poet-laureates are men/boys; with the exception of Carol Ann Duffy.

    Reply
  6. katie s

    I think that the use of the similes that Heaney uses, create the imagery in the poem. One of the first, is “Hard as a knot” this creates a picture of a hard, tough blackberry, not the smooth, juicy ones we like to eat. I think that the use of this simile could be slightly off putting to someone who had never been blackberry picking before.

    Another case of imagery, is “wet grass bleached our boots”. We can imagine people walking in welly boots across dewy fields, and where the water meets the rubber, it turns a slightly lighter shade of the original colour. This is almost the opposite of the other type of imagery, as the other one was rather off putting and nasty, whereas this one is more happy and bright.
    ———
    If I was new to blackberry picking I do think that I would be put off by this, yes, as it has some very negative thoughts on blackberry picking.

    Reply
  7. Georgia

    Overall, Heaney’s views and descriptions of blackberry picking are fond, even the part where he isn’t describing the pros sounds pleasant! An example of a positive opinion: “You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet like thickened wine”. This line shows that Heaney thought the blackberry was so enjoyable that it was comparable to alcohol. Some might think that the use of the word “flesh” isn’t suitable for describing food, but in this case it enhances the descriptive imagery. Through strong depiction and excellent attention to detail, the author has managed to paint a vivid picture in the reader’s head, of the blackberry he is so fondly writing about, resulting in almost being able to taste what he is describing.
    Enjambment is the continuation of a sentence without a pause at the end of a line. “Then red ones inked up and that hunger
    Sent us out”. This line demonstrates the fluidity of the poem, contributed to by the use of enjambment. This helps the reader to link each line/stanza and shows an element of unity between lines.
    My own simile: The blackberry, which was as red and as a jolly winter jumper, waited patiently to be eaten.
    Extension. – I only recognised Carol Ann Duffy from the list of poets- laureate. I noticed that she was the first women on there.

    Reply
  8. Julius

    I personaly have never been blackberry-picking, so I think for me it’s easy to do the A/B grade question.

    Seamus Heany presents his ideas about blackberry picking very imagey and with lots of similes and metaphors, like in „Our hands were pepperedwith thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard’s.“
    This shows that it wasn’t fun to collect blackberries, but he describes this painful impressions whith such pleasure, that I’m now sure, that it’s worth the pain. And after I read this poem, I really want to go blackberry picking.
    He also shows how important every single blackberry is for him „At first, just one, a glossy purple clot“ so he makes this impression to something very private.

    Reply
  9. Bronwyn

    Seamus Heany shows his affection towards picking blackberry’s through this poem, extremely well,often through his use of similes and metaphors.
    an example would be “like thickened wine, summers blood was in it” This is effective because it shows how all the juice is escaping and it looks like wine or dark blood, and it is just as messy. So this metaphor creates strong imagery in my head.

    Another way he presents his view of blackberry picking, is through several similes. One of them is “like eyes on a plate” When i read this line, i have a very strong image of a bush full of blackberry’s in my head. It shows that they aren’t all huddled together and are actually separated. Also, that not all of them are ripe, but they are all very bright (like eyes) and different colors (like eyes)so be careful which ones you pick. If they are green, they are not ripe.

    The reason he uses these similes and metaphors is to make it clear to those who have not yet picked blackberry’s, what is tastes like, and what the experience is like.

    Reply
  10. shannonburrows

    Heaney creates imagery by using metaphors and similes an example of a simile used is;
    “Among others, red, green, hard as a knot” This gives a clear picture of the scene; the sweet ripened berry and the ones that aren’t quite ripened surrounding it.

    An example of a metaphor is ;”You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet.” This creates a very clear image of a sweet juicy berry and this could also possibly be an example of personification as the berry is referred to as having flesh.

    Reply
  11. Frieder

    C Grade
    Heaney creates imagery with phrases like:”At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
    Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.”, because you can imagine to be there and pick those blackberrys by urself. This phrase is a simile, what you can see at the use of “as”.
    He also uses metaphors like:”summer’s blood was in it” or “hard as a knot.”
    With the phrase “Late August, given heavy rain and sun” he describes the setting and introduces you to get into that poem. I think this is a strong imagery.

    Reply
  12. Louis.B

    Late August, given heavy rain and sun
    For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
    At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
    Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.
    You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
    Like thickened wine: summer’s blood was in it
    Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for
    Picking. Then red ones inked up and that hunger
    Sent us out with milk cans, pea tins, jam-pots
    Where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots.

    Round hayfields, cornfields and potato-drills
    We trekked and picked until the cans were full
    Until the tinkling bottom had been covered
    With green ones, and on top big dark blobs burned
    Like a plate of eyes. Our hands were peppered
    With thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard’s.
    We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre.
    But when the bath was filled we found a fur,
    A rat-grey fungus, glutting on our cache.
    The juice was stinking too. Once off the bush
    The fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour.
    I always felt like crying. It wasn’t fair
    That all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.
    Each year I hoped they’d keep, knew they would not.

    1. The first bit of imagery is “At first, just one, a glossy purple clot” this bit of imagery is describing the first blackberry.
    2. The second bit of imagery “Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.” This quote uses the word “knot” instead of just hard or tough it makes you think about how hard they are.
    3.The final bit of imagery is “Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for picking.” This final piece of imagery is talking about the “juiciness” and redness of the blackberry.

    ” flesh was sweet
    Like thickened wine” This quote is a simile.
    “For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.” This quote here is a caesura.

    Reply
  13. Jenna

    He uses poetic techniques, such as a simile, to create the sense of imagery; ‘Among others, red, green, hard as a knot’ You can picture the different colours of the berries and how they could relfect his mood. Happy and calm could represent the colours red and green.

    ‘You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet like thickened wine.’ He uses quite negative words like flesh and positive words like sweet. This is quite confusing yet it could represent his conflicting emotions towards blackberry picking. Perhaps, he enjoys the activity but it brings back sad memories.

    Reply

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