Another week another top Irish poem. The Irish poem Blackberry-Picking comes in at number 47 on the list of top 100 Irish poems.
I think so far this is the first Irish poem that I actually managed to find a video from the author reading the poem himself. I have included the video before the poem. Great to hear Heaney reading the poem. Another fantastic use of imagery. I can almost taste the blackberry.
I also share a new Irish poem every week on my weekly dose of Irish straight to your inbox. You can subscribe here.
Who is Seamus Heaney?
Seamus Justin Heaney MRIA (/ˈʃeɪməs ˈhiːni/; 13 April 1939 – 30 August 2013) was an Irish poet, playwright and translator.
He received the 1995 Nobel Prize in Literature. Among his best-known works is Death of a Naturalist (1966), his first major published volume.
Heaney was and is still recognised as one of the principal contributors to poetry in Ireland during his lifetime.
American poet Robert Lowell described him as “the most important Irish poet since Yeats”, and many others, including the academic John Sutherland, have said that he was “the greatest poet of our age” Source Wiki
Blackberry-Picking video, by Seamus Heaney
Blackberry-Picking, by Seamus Heaney
Late August, given heavy rain and sunFor a full week, the blackberries would ripen.At first, just one, a glossy purple clotAmong others, red, green, hard as a knot.You ate that first one and its flesh was sweetLike thickened wine: summer’s blood was in itLeaving stains upon the tongue and lust forPicking. Then red ones inked up and that hungerSent us out with milk cans, pea tins, jam-potsWhere briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots.Round hayfields, cornfields and potato-drillsWe trekked and picked until the cans were full,Until the tinkling bottom had been coveredWith green ones, and on top big dark blobs burnedLike a plate of eyes. Our hands were pepperedWith 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 bushThe fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour.I always felt like crying. It wasn’t fairThat all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.Each year I hoped they’d keep, knew they would not.