Poetic Devices Used by Seamus Heaney in Blackberry-Picking Essay

Blackberry-picking is a retrospective and recollecting poem by Seamus Heaney. In it he mentions one of his childhood incidents. The poem is sensuous and appeals to the five senses. He uses various poetic devices to depict a memorable picture in our minds. Usage of the five senses is very important to the success of treating a picture in our minds about what the experiences of blackberry-picking must have been like for Heaney. He writes about the sight of the blackberries, the fell of then, how they tasted, the sound of the blackberries when they hit the bottom of the cans and finally the smell of rot when the blackberries go rotten.

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These uses of the senses are used very well, so well in fact that you can imagine being there with Heaney. There are many uses of senses in the poem, for example he uses sight more than smell and touch. A few examples of the uses are when Heaney use sight at the start of the poem describing the blackberries as ‘a glossy purple clot’.

This describes the color of the berry and is referring it to a blood clot which is quite gleefully gory and imaginative and therefore childlike. He also described the shape of the blackberries like a clot, and possible the fell of it too, rather soft and juicy.

Heaney also describes the berries taste in these lines, “You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet, like thickened wine; summers blood was in it”. In these lines Heaney, describes the taste and color of the berries by using the simile, “like thickened wine” and metaphor, “summers blood was in it”. The impressions of the taste is very sweet and fleshy, you can almost imagine the juicy fleshy berry in you mouth, tasting the sweet flavor.

Heaney also describes the sound of the berries as they hit the bottom of the tins he describes the sound as ‘tinkling’ using onomatopoeia, another poetic device. Then Heaney goes on to describe the feel of the juice on his hands by saying, “our palms sticky as Bluebeards”.

He was comparing the berry juice to the blood on Bluebeards hand. Bluebeard used to be a murderer and his hands would have been sticky with the blood of his victims. Heaney ends the poem by describing the smell of the berries once they have gone rotten by saying, “juice was stinking too” and “lovely canfuls smelt of rot”. When describing the smell he is very blunt and basic and he has chosen to do this to sort of show his disgust of how the berries have spoiled.

Along with onomatopoeia, Heaney uses other poetic devices to help us create a picture on our minds about the experience, Heaney uses similes and metaphors like “like a plate of eyes”. Here Heaney is describing how the berries look, as they lay oiled up in the tins, looking like a plate of eyes, again, his thoughts quite childish and gory. Heaney use of metaphors is good as well. He says, “Like thickened wine, summers blood was in it”. Heaney is describing the sight of the berry, red like wine. He also may be comparing the taste of the berries to the taste of wine.

The over all effect of the poem is quite impressive and appealing. The colorful recollecting memories of childhood give and impression of nostalgia of the poet.  Heaney uses a variety of poetic devices, metaphors, similes, personification, onomatopoeia, word choice and rhyming to create a vivid image of his childhood experience of blackberry picking as a child, this makes the poem.

Works Cited

Seamus Heaney: Blackberry-Picking: Accessed on April 04, 2008 from http://www.eliteskills.com/c/5597

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