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.
And that’s the End of the Poem
© Poetry Monster, 2021.
Poetry Monster — the ultimate repository of world poetry.
Poetry Monster — the multilingual library of poetic works. Here you’ll find original poems, poetry translations, ancient verses, ballads and even folk tales.
Poetry Monster (or even The Poetry Monster) — is also an international multilingual community of poets and poetry connoisseurs. Join us:
Some external links: The Bat’s Poetry Cave. — Fledermaus’s poetry site. Talking Writing Monster. — the irreverent and irrelevant chatter on subjects both serious and not quite. A free for all board. You can scribble anything on it without registration (but it doesn’t let spammers in). You can even post your poems. Qwant.com. — a search engine from France. It’s an alternative because there are a few alternatives, like Bing, Duckduckgo, and Ecosia. And there is Yandex, the ultimate language-oriented search engine for the Russophone world. Commercial Links: Russian Commerce – the foreign trade assistance agency Other links: Poems and poetry in Russian (if you are reading this in English, as you obviously are, then you’d have to switch the language, the language switch is on the menu. More on languages)