A food poem for National Poetry Day.

One of my favourite poems ever is Blackberry Picking by Seamus Heaney.
“Blackberry Picking” by Seamus Heaney

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.

I remember spending ages analysing, paraphrasing and learning off the lines in English lessons at secondary school. The reason I love it so much is because it’s exactly what I did with my friends growing up in Ireland and the lines

“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.”

explains so eloquently what it was like.

I still go blackberry picking every year with my Yorkshire family and my niece who loves it and my favourite dishes to make are blackberry scones, apple and blackberry crumble and blackberry soda bread. I also refer to this poem in my food lessons when we are working with seasonal berries. It’s also a nice poem to display in food classrooms.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “A food poem for National Poetry Day.

Feel free to comment or email me at foodandhealthteacher@hotmail.com if you would like to discuss this blog further.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s