Poetry Friday: Seamus Heaney

The  Poetry Friday is hosted by Laura at Author Amok
We lost a magnificent poet last Friday – Seamus Heaney.  I loved reading his poetry, but I especially loved hearing him read his poetry.  There were so many gems to choose from, but his one has been a long time favorite, so here it is:


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 here he is on writing, and poetry:


11 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Seamus Heaney

  1. I was hoping someone would talk about Seamus Heaney. "Each year I hoped they'd keep, knew they would not."The poem you chose is one that I will keep and re-read. Thank you!

  2. I love this poem, Tara. I, too, was saddened to hear Heaney had died – he was a lovely, wonderful poet. One of my favorite lines in any poem ever is from his "Fosterling" – "Time to be dazzled and the heart to lighten." Thanks for posting about him this week – aren't the videos wonderful? Such a voice.

  3. What a great poem! My family went raspberry picking this summer and it was fun but hard work at the same time…and we did get home and feel like they weren't the greatest raspberries compared to when we were plucking them right off the plant and popping them into our mouths. It also makes me want to make some jelly/jam!

  4. A lovely poem and so reminiscent of one summer in the country in Lincoln, MA, picking and eating blackberries right off the bushes, my arms and legs scratched, my clothes torn, but still it was worth it! Heaney is one of my favorite poets!

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