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Seamus Heaney Essay

September 3rd, 2009 No comments

“Blackberry-picking,” by Seamus Heaney, can be seen as a multi layered cake. There is the obvious physical attraction of a beautifully written poem as there is a grandly frosted cake, but once tasted, the poem can tell different stories as a cake can reveal different flavors. There is a literal reading of the poem, but the poem can also be read as a struggle between man and nature and the natural mental progression from childhood through adult hood.

Man possesses a preoccupation with opposing and fighting the world in which he lives. In spite of all the good that nature has done unto him, man possesses an inherent force, perhaps stemming from the Freudian id (the one of the three divisions of the psyche in psychoanalytic theory that is completely unconscious and is the source of psychic energy derived from instinctual needs and drives), which causes him to create conflict with the rest of the universe. (http://www.m-w.com) Throughout literature, humans have tried to oppose nature. Such epics as Beowulf and Gilgamesh contain heroes that fight against nature’s creation but suffer a tragic end and the hands of the universe. In “Blackberry-Picking,” Seamus Heaney grasps this theme of the eternal conflict between nature and man, and impresses this premise into an idea as simple as blackberry-picking. The author reverses the common structure of the words “Picking Blackberries” to “Blackberry-Picking.” This reversal may signify the importance of “Blackberries” from the singular form “Blackberry,” thereby leading the reader to infer that the poem transcends the denotation of picking blackberries. Also, the singular form of the title may serve to emphasize that Heaney focuses the poem on one single theme which pervades the entirety of the poem. Through the physical notion of the action of blackberry-picking, Seamus Heaney employs poetic devices ranging from imagery to metaphor; illuminating his universal theme of the eternal struggle of the force of man versus the force of nature. Read more…