➢ Blackberry-Picking (Rochi Vago)
for Philip Hobsbaum
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.
In the poem “Blackberry-Picking” we can spot the Rite of Passage that the voice goes
through. The poem compares adulthood with childhood. First, the author analyze the exciting
life of a blackberry picker. But when the ripe berry decays, the memories of childhood are
over. The berries decay means the childhood decay, too. It loses its innocence, and confront
the harsh things in life. “I always felt like crying. It wasn't fair/ That all the lovely canfuls smelt
of rot.”, as in “Journey”, the child starts crying when he sees how harsh life is. He picked so
many blackberries that they started to get rot, we can relate this excessive blackberry
picking as an aspect of an ambitious person, but the child did not learnt, the next summer he
did the same. The poem is a flashback, now, Seamus Heaney can understand the meaning
of the rotten blackberries, ambition won't get you anywhere.
Picking—> metaphor for the sweet, innocent childhood.
➢ Personal Helicon (Juana Pérez Muñiz)
As a child, they could not keep me from wells
And old pumps with buckets and windlasses.
I loved the dark drop, the trapped sky, the smells
Of waterweed, fungus and dank moss.
One, in a brickyard, with a rotted board top.
I savoured the rich crash when a bucket
Plummeted down at the end of a rope.
So deep you saw no reflection in it.
A shallow one under a dry stone ditch
Fructified like any aquarium.
When you dragged out long roots from the soft mulch
A white face hovered over the bottom.
Others had echoes, gave back your own call
With a clean new music in it. And one
Was scaresome, for there, out of ferns and tall
Foxgloves, a rat slapped across my reflection.
Now, to pry into roots, to finger slime,
To stare, big-eyed Narcissus, into some spring
Is beneath all adult dignity. I rhyme
To see myself, to set the darkness echoing.
The poem talks about a man who remembers his childhood. The voice explains how much
he enjoyed wells when he was a kid and talks about an anecdote in one of them. At the end
of the poem we can see that the voice went back to the well as a grown up.
Since the voice loved wells as a kid, we can spot how innocent he is, since the kid had such
an imagination he saw things a grown up can not. He saw a “trapped sky” on the buckets, he
paid attention to the smells of the fungus, he was just a kid having fun with something that, in
my opinion, is not that fun. By saying this I mean that wells are not fun for adults in order to
express the kid’s innocence. This proves the fact he was just a kid. When the voice went
back, the poet expresses the fact that all those marvelous things the kid appreciated where
not found. This portrays a rite of passage, since all those “echoes that gave back your own
call, with a clean new music in it” were now dark. The voice passed through a Rite of
Passage, he passed from being an innocent boy to be a grownup.
This well is his “personal helicon”, its his personal instrument or muse. When he was a kid it
gives him back his innocence and his naiveness, the well give him joy music. As a grown up,
it gives him darkness. The well portrays what he feels. As a kid it portrays his joy, as a grown
up it reveals his guilt, he is guilty of ending his family legacy when he started being a poet.
Not only the well reflects that, but it also reflects the fact that he grew up, he lost his
innocence, that is the rite of passage.
● Alliteration: “Dark drop” to emphasize how much the voice loved something simple
● Olfactory Image: “the smells of waterweed, fungus and dank moss”, the poet portrays
the kid’s innocent life and emphasizes it by describing the smells at the wells to make
the anecdote more vivid and full of emotions.
● Metaphor: “trapped sky”, this metaphor represents that the sky is ‘trapped’ in a
bucket, it reflects the kid’s innocence since he really believes that it is trapped, when
it is actually the reflection of the sky in a bucket of water
● Simile: “fructified like any aquarium”,
● Personification: “Echoes gave back your own call”, the echoes are personified in
order to express his innocence bu believing the well sang to him
● Personification: “Darkness echoing”, the echo is personified again to express the fact
ir become dark.
➢ Digging (Margarita Muller)
Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.
Under my window, a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging. I look down
Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
Bends low, comes up twenty years away
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
Where he was digging.
The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked,
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.
By God, the old man could handle a spade.
Just like his old man.
My grandfather cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner’s bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away
Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, going down and down
For the good turf. Digging.
The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I’ve no spade to follow men like them.
Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I’ll dig with it.
CHILDHOOD IN THE FARM
portrays the relationship between the poet and his father.
* the poet remembers his father and the lineage he comes from.
* the poet reflects on his father
* tone: serious and full of reflection.
* The speaker is looking back through the family history, noting how hard his father and his
grandfather have worked the land. He is in awe of their achievements yet resigned to the
fact that he, as creator of the poem, is destined not to follow them and their digging.
* The speaker's approach is serious and studied and quietly assured which creates a tone of
thoughtful admiration and pride. He has respect for those who were expert diggers.
Metaphor: the pen --> tool to dig inside himself and to take out his feelings, he carries deep
inside. Instead of using a spade as a tool to dig, he uses a pen.
In the poem, there is a rite of passage since the speaker digs for his identity:
In this case, the pen is the object of desire
In this poem, the voice avoids following his father steps = trespassing the father figure and
A dare —> cut off its family tradition.
Understand the mischief —> Heaney is aware by the end of the poem with the fact that his
skill of digging with a pen is as powerful as his forefathers’ act of digging for the survival.
In this poem, the voice is able to accept his internal change, his loss of innocence.
Circular structure = circle of life (internal journey)
➢ Death of a Naturalist (Silvestre Braun)
All year the flax-dam festered in the heart
Of the townland; green and heavy headed
Flax had rotted there, weighted down by huge sods.
Daily it sweltered in the punishing sun.
Bubbles gargled delicately, bluebottles
Wove a strong gauze of sound around the smell.
There were dragonflies, spotted butterflies,
But best of all was the warm thick slobber
Of frogspawn that grew like clotted water
In the shade of the banks. Here, every spring
I would fill jampotfuls of the jellied
Specks to range on window sills at home,
On shelves at school, and wait and watch until
The fattening dots burst, into nimble
Swimming tadpoles. Miss Walls would tell us how
The daddy frog was called a bullfrog
And how he croaked and how the mammy frog
Laid hundreds of little eggs and this was
Frogspawn. You could tell the weather by frogs too
For they were yellow in the sun and brown
Then one hot day when fields were rank
With cowdung in the grass the angry frogs
Invaded the flax-dam; I ducked through hedges
To a coarse croaking that I had not heard
Before. The air was thick with a bass chorus.
Right down the dam gross bellied frogs were cocked
On sods; their loose necks pulsed like sails. Some hopped:
The slap and plop were obscene threats. Some sat
Poised like mud grenades, their blunt heads farting.
I sickened, turned, and ran. The great slime kings
Were gathered there for vengeance and I knew
That if I dipped my hand the spawn would clutch it.
This poem is about a young boy that had his first biology class. He loved seeing all that
insects and small animals, and listen to his teacher. Here it shows the innocent part of
childhood and the unconditional trust to the adults. But at the end of the poem, the boy saw
something that would change his perspective of life and he would loss his innocence. That's
why this poem has a rite of passage.
Their steps are:
Object of desire---> The knowledge of biology that the boy wants to have.
Trespassing the authority--->
He trespass the teacher’s lesson
there isn’t a dare
Understand the mischief--->
understanding how babies are born
Accepts his loss of innocence
The title is very important as it is connected to the poem. At first, the word Naturalist is a
reference to the boy and his interest of biology, a potential Naturalist. The word death is a
metaphor (as anybody died). The death of that feeling of naturalist that the boy had.