Blackberry-Picking

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.

by Seamus Heaney

Comments (11)

I really enjoyed this poem. It reminded me of the many summers I spent taking my sons picking. Happy days, of course we could freeze them!
THERE ARE 2 RHYMING COUPLETS! ! ! OMG! ! ! !
This is such a beautiful poem, even more rich and colourful when read by the writer himself but not by this cold, wretched computerise voice! I'd rather read it quietly, by myself, to myself please
Seamus heaney the great poet ever remembered through the beautiful poems pertaining the real man and his sufferings. I like this poem also. A nature and agriculture fields the them he made in this poem with such beauty.
my favourite poem. P.S Only an idiot wouldn't understand that this poem is not about picking fruit and letting it go moldy again and again
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