Blackberrying by Sylvia Plath Analysis

Blackberrying Sylvia Plath: Sylvia Plath had one of the most storied lives (and deaths) of any poet. The truly tragic circumstances of her passing and the white-hot rhetoric of the poems that she wrote in the final year of her life can sometimes obscure her exceptional poetic gift.

“Blackberrying” is for me her masterpiece. It’s a poem of plain description that holds at its center something huge and unspoken.

There is no mystery to be “solved” in “Blackberrying”; the poem’s descriptions and events do not “stand” for anything but themselves.

But that makes the poem even stronger, and more suggestive. It’s a piece that suggests the wonder of life itself, amazement that such conjunction of sights and sounds (of feasts for all five senses, in fact) could come to exist.

“I knew that nothing stranger / had ever happened, that nothing/stranger could ever happen,” Elizabeth Bishop says in a different (but just as ordinary) context. Why should humans seek out fruit, why should they compete with flies for it, why should blackberries grow (as they do in England) on scraps of the waste ground? Why are humans drawn by an ocean, even when they cannot sense it, and why do such marvelous juxtapositions of land and water exist in our world?

I love this poem for the way it is continually drawn beyond its subject, toward wonder. Plath is often celebrated for her extreme hatred, for her acid satires of conventional life.

But she was also capable of turning her titanic energies toward an expression of just how fabulous it is to be alive in the world.

Blackberrying by Sylvia Plath

“Blackberrying” is also a masterful use of free verse, with its long, non-rhyming, irregular lines that wander in and out of the standard ten-syllable line that is the most common pattern in English verse.

It is too rhythmic and too meandering to be good prose, but it’s great free verse, unsettling readers and keeping us off-balance, just as the day of blackberrying upsets and unsettles the speaker.

Blackberrying Analysis

The first stanza is very beautiful when it is describing the blackberries. It just shows the beauty of nature and how it is there for our own wellness.

In the lines “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 milk bottle, flattening their sides. It brings to mind that even the tiniest things of nature no matter how messy they may still hold compassion for us.

The blackberries here ‘accommodating themselves’ for the speaker's favor extends this idea that nature is willing to mesh into our lifestyles as well as it can.

The second stanza begins the turn into a more sinister tone. The first few lines about the birds being angry about the speaker picking ‘their’ blueberries seems harmless but with what we discussed in class about the Slyvia Plath, we know that she was a depressed person, and many people who suffer from that disorder tend to not be good with confrontation and wan away from that.

The speaker of the poem continues down the path, of which is painted as just a normal walkway to some sea, but again it can be paralleled with the path of life.

Finally, the last stanza has the most violent tone of the three. The speaker is waiting for the sea to come, but never comes right out and says it.

The speaker views the sea as an immovable object, which is told in the last couple of lines that say, “Of white and pewter lights, and a din like silversmiths Beating and beating at an intractable metal.” This leads one to think that their view of nature has turned from something beautiful to something that will never change.

That life will never change for the better, it will stagnate.

Overall I enjoyed this poem, the many twists that it held we quite intriguing. It would have probably been just an ordinary poem about nature if we had not gone over the history of the poet.
Next Post »