Over on her blog, turbidus has posted a (poem of the day) Blackberry Picking by Seamus Heaney, including a great video of Heaney reading it:
I would just like to counter / respond with my own favorite poem about blackberry picking, by Robert Hass from his breakout second book, Praise:
Picking Blackberries with a Friend Who Has Been Reading Jacques Lacan
August is dust here. Drought
stuns the road,
but juice gathers in the berries.
We pick them in the hot
slow-motion of midmorning.
Charlie is exclaiming:
for him it is twenty years ago
and raspberries and Vermont.
We have stopped talking
about L’Histoire de la vérité,
about subject and object
and the mediation of desire.
Our ears are stoppered
in the bee-hum. And Charlie,
beard stained purple
by the word juice,
goes to get a bigger pot.
A poet and blogger made a really interesting observation on this poem a few years ago that I just ran across:
I also like the way Hass employs the word “stuns” in “Picking Blackberries…” to give a quick nod toward Sylvia Plath’s “Blackberrying.” Plath wrote of the flies buzzing round her English blackberries: “The honey feast of the the berries has stunned them; they believe in heaven.” The acknowledgment of the debt is a classy little move, typical of the work of Robert Hass. (via sonnets at 4 a.m.: A Poem by Robert Hass.)
Though of course I’ve read Sylvia Plath, I have absolutely no recollection of this poem, but now I want to rush out and read it. (I can’t read a poem for the first time online; there’s something about computer screens that seems to inhibit that initial connection for me.)
For more poetry by Robert Hass, and some background on him, check out Robert Hass : The Poetry Foundation:
Robert Hass is one of contemporary poetry’s most celebrated and widely-read voices. In addition to his success as a poet, Hass is also recognized as a leading critic and translator, notably of the Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz and Japanese haiku masters Basho, Buson and Issa. Critics celebrate Hass’s own poetry for its clarity of expression, its conciseness, and its imagery, often drawn from everyday life.