FF (b. l938 / Troy, NY)

Blackberrying

Nobody in the lane, and nothing, nothing but blackberries,
Blackberries on either side, though on the right mainly,
A blackberry alley, going down in hooks, and a sea
Somewhere at the end of it, heaving. Blackberries
Big as the ball of my thumb, and dumb as eyes
Ebon in the hedges, fat
With blue-red juices. These they squander on my fingers.
I had not asked for such a blood sisterhood; they must love me.
They accommodate themselves to my milkbottle, flattening their sides.

Overhead go the choughs in black, cacophonous flocks ---
Bits of burnt paper wheeling in a blown sky.
Theirs is the only voice, protesting, protesting.
I do not think the sea will appear at all.
The high, green meadows are glowing, as if lit from within.
I come to one bush of berries so ripe it is a bush of flies,
Hanging their bluegreen bellies and their wing panes in a Chinese screen.
The honey-feast of the berries has stunned them; they believe in heaven.
One more hook, and the berries and bushes end.

The only thing to come now is the sea.
From between two hills a sudden wind funnels at me,
Slapping its phantom laundry in my face.
These hills are too green and sweet to have tasted salt.
I follow the sheep path between them. A last hook brings me
To the hills' northern face, and the face is orange rock
That looks out on nothing, nothing but a great space
Of white and pewter lights, and a din like silversmiths
Beating and beating at an intractable metal.

User Rating: 3,8 / 5 ( 30 votes ) 4

Comments (4)

I agree with Jim. Read her book, The Bell Jar and anyone could the amazing talent, resilance and impatience all contained in one woman once considered so lost. X's and O's
'Too bad about the oven'; 'Too bad she didn't have the strength of character to overcome her wish to die'! Where am I? On some planet where people have bricks where their brains should be? Why not appreciate the poetry for its superlative qualities, and make the reasonable assumption that we don't really have much of an idea why some people take their lives - especially those who are supremely gifted and who clearly have the ability to weigh the options they perceive with great care and sensitivity, and having perhaps chosen what appears to be the rational course (rightly or wrongly is beyond our capacity to judge unless we know all the facts and have an ethical standpoint to judge from that is objective and utterly beyond reproach - not yet devised, and almost certainly undevisable, particularly by the brickheads who appended the earlier comments) saw that choice through to its logical conclusion - no mean feat of courage, requiring perhaps considerable strength of character! !) . As readers of poetry we lost as a result, but she owed us nothing. What we have gained gratuituously is poetry of great power and insight. This may not be her very best work but I'd guess that most reviewers would prefer that it had been written rather than not. Another gem in my view from a very impressive writer and commentator on this complex life and world. I'm sad that she went so early, but I wouldn't dream of condemning her for doing it. Her life. Her choice. And that is far from being a brickhead statement! jim hogg.
Such a life so full of potential and gifted beyond measure. Too bad she didn't have the strength of character to overcome her wish to die.
I have read this several times. She must mention eight different colors. Too bad about the oven. Great writer.