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Seamus Heaney’s poem “Blackerry-Picking”

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In Seamus Heaneys poetic piece, Blackberry Picking, the presence and mastery of malicious diction, vivid imagery, and metaphor is apparent as is a deeper meaning behind the authors poem. Heaneys writings not only convey a literal description of his actions, but also an emotional and metaphorical journey through his experience.

The sensual word choice ever-present in Heaneys poem illuminated his love for blackberries whilst portraying a deeper meaning. The diction is generally creative and descriptive, giving the poem a sort of whimsical bliss. When paired with the personified words that describe the blackberries, however, the tone takes a bit of a gruesome twist. While using words such as flesh to represent the berrys skin, blood as the flavor, and words such as lust, rot, sour, et cetera to add in the description, comparison can be made to the desires of Bluebeard. The sticky berry juice on Heaneys hands is compared to the bloody hands [that were] as sticky as Bluebeards; the sweet fleshy taste the author thirsted for so strongly is in resemblance to Bluebeards craving for real flesh and blood Bluebeard yearned for.

Bold imagery apparent, this conveys a literal description of the process of picking blackberries, yet also a deeper meaning introduced by the mention of Bluebeard; the cycle of life and death. The author waits for the luscious blackberries to ripen and turn into big, swollen treats, and then plucks them from their bushels. He stores them in a barn for later feasting, but returns to find his blackberries rotted and dead. Noticing the lifelike diction that contributes to the personified image of the blackberries, one cannot help but see the cycle of life and death presented through the blackberries; this all comes back to the slaying, slaughtering Bluebeard, who is also a representation of the loss of life.

The metaphors present in Blackberry Picking support the present theme of life and death, as well as the literal aspect of blackberry picking for the author. Our hands were peppered with thorn pricks, shows the pain the author is willing to endure to have palms sticky as Bluebeards, as he loves his blackberries so fondly. This metaphor introduced the aspect of death to the poem whilst aiding the literal description of the journey to obtain the blackberries.

The death-laden Blackberry Picking hones a deeper meaning of death and dismal matters as well as a literal look at Seamus Heaneys love for blackberries. Through the use of twisted, vivid imagery, dramatic diction, and sick metaphor, the Heaney is able to convey the cycle of life and death behind the obvious and unembellished text in his writings.

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