Along for the ride:

Friday, October 2, 2009

Blackberrying 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 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 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


  1. Thank you for the lovely poem.

  2. A glorious picture painted by these words.Thank you.

  3. You paint a gorgeous picture with these words. I can feel myself walking in the lane and enjoying all the surrounding sights.

  4. What a great poem! I loved "black cacophonous flocks". I've not really read much of Ms Plath's stuff beofre, but I think I might have to now.

  5. This poem captures childhood memories for me in many ways; not just picking blackberries near the coast at the end of summer but references like "slapping its phantom laundry in my face" make me sad that my daughter; raised in a world of tumble dryers has never imagined a magical kingdom amongst the damp bed-sheets hung from the line in the garden.

  6. Lovely photo to accompany a powerful poem.

  7. Sylvia Plath had such a vivid view of the world turning the ordinary into the extraordinary. How sad to think she never really could cope with the beauty of her genius.

  8. Jean: "This world was never meant for one as beautiful as you" per Starry Night, Simon and Garfunkle. I do like the fact that Plath has received such recognition. She left a legacy.

  9. I didn't know Simon and Garfunkle covered Don McLean's Starry Night. I bet it was good; always liked their singing.

    This is a lovely post, both the photograph (so vivid I can taste the sweet) and Plath's wonderful poem. She had a great gift.


  10. Crow, It was most likely Don McLean. I wanted to give credit but I am not very savvy about the names that go with the songs. I only ever owned a few LP's because of all my moving around. I should have checked. The words to Starry Night go round in my head sometimes when I am out walking. Thanks for the correction.