GROW O'ahu

Island Style Gardening and Plant-Based Living

“Blackberrying” by Sylvia Plath



By Sylvia Plath

Nobody in the lane, and nothing, nothing but blackberries,
Blackberries on either side, though on the right mainly,
A blackberry alley, going down in hooks, and a sea
Somewhere at the end of it, heaving. Blackberries
Big as the ball of my thumb, and dumb as eyes
Ebon in the hedges, fat
With blue-red juices. These they squander on my fingers.
I had not asked for such a blood sisterhood; they must love me.
They accommodate themselves to my milkbottle, flattening their sides.
Overhead go the choughs in black, cacophonous flocks—
Bits of burnt paper wheeling in a blown sky.
Theirs is the only voice, protesting, protesting.
I do not think the sea will appear at all.
The high, green meadows are glowing, as if lit from within.
I come to one bush of berries so ripe it is a bush of flies,
Hanging their bluegreen bellies and their wing panes in a Chinese screen.
The honey-feast of the berries has stunned them; they believe in heaven.
One more hook, and the berries and bushes end.
The only thing to come now is the sea.
From between two hills a sudden wind funnels at me,
Slapping its phantom laundry in my face.
These hills are too green and sweet to have tasted salt.
I follow the sheep path between them. A last hook brings me
To the hills’ northern face, and the face is orange rock
That looks out on nothing, nothing but a great space
Of white and pewter lights, and a din like silversmiths
Beating and beating at an intractable metal.
Sylvia Plath, “Blackberrying” from Collected Poems. Copyright © 1960, 1965, 1971, 1981 by the Estate of Sylvia Plath
I have always loved Sylvia Plath, and I re-read this poem the other day and it shows as a sign of the times that when I read the title, “Blackberrying” I got a vision of walking through a tunnel of lit, blinging, ringing Blackberrys.  Which made me think of the importance of human connection to nature, and that we are perhaps more connected to our screens and handhelds than we are to the natural world, and that this comes at a price. I’ve been reading and thinking a lot about “media-diets” recently, ironically because of not only our own lives that are constantly connected, but also two bloggers who wrote about these issues recently: Science of Mom wrote about the balancing act and Power of Moms recent post went viral on Facebook and has over 800 comments, so I’m thinking she might have touched a nerve.
So my own quiet commitment is to finish this blog post, turn off my handheld connection to the virtual world and be with my son today, and while we may not pick blackberries, we might just hit up a trail and get a little closer to our natural world.

Author: Carmen

Things I love: justice in all forms; flowers; locally grown food; cloth-diapering; breastfeeding; feminist theory; outdoor play; beaches; wine; Divine interventions; 4-H and coffee. Things I loathe: racism; homophobia; toxic crap; misogyny; litterbugs; the zombie apocalypse and pitbull-haters. My formal education is in sociology, gender studies, and public policy. I'm also a Lactation Educator; 4-H Youth Development coordinator a Certified Master Gardener and a graduate of a Permaculture Design Course. I've been blogging for several years on dozens of topics- everything from women's health to breed-specific legislation. But the thing I like to write about most is my gardening, food adventures and my kids. So there you have it. Please be kind. Thanks.

5 thoughts on ““Blackberrying” by Sylvia Plath

  1. LOVE this poetry! I’ve never read her. I think I have to change that.

  2. I remember reading Plath at school, but coming back to this poem feels so different a few years down the line! I love the way you connected the poem to your thoughs and life 🙂


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