Thursday, 28 July 2011

Ode to Blackberries

The school holidays are now in full swing. Consequently I have not so much time for writing or posting. Besides, blackberries are here early this year, so no one should have time to read it. Wherever you all are, you should be outside picking and eating blackberries right now.

Go Outside Now!
For some people blackberries are the start and finish of foraging - my hope is that between them and my blog, we can encourage more people to venture a bit further out into the fun world of free food. For now though, instead of me rambling about brambles, here are some poetic proclamations on the subject…
Eaten By The Handfull
Blackberry Eating by Galway Kinnell

I love to go out in late September
among the fat, overripe, icy, black blackberries
to eat blackberries for breakfast,
the stalks very prickly, a penalty
they earn for knowing the black art
of blackberry-making; and as I stand among them
lifting the stalks to my mouth, the ripest berries
fall almost unbidden to my tongue,
as words sometimes do, certain peculiar words
like strengths or squinched,
many-lettered, one-syllabled lumps,
which I squeeze, squinch open, and splurge well
in the silent, startled, icy, black language
of blackberry-eating in late September.
Blackberry Flowers
Blackberry Picking by Seamus Heaney

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.

Yum - Starting to Ripen Now
Busy as I am, I can always find time to write a poem or lyric for you, so here is my own personal paean to these dark jewels of the hedgerow…

Blackberry Wine – by the Urbane Forager (2011)

Down the lane the Blackberries run.
The bittersweet pang, of your blood on my tongue.
Favourite flavours, temptation - too good
And it’s all staring down from the hedge by the wood.
You promised that you would not hurt me this time
Still the sting in my digits remains in the wine.
Always there is something about which to warn;
The hotter the sun, the deeper the thorn.
A worthy opponent, with briars to joust;
I want to crush you - to juice in my mouth.
In the green of the field, in the glare that can stun;
I long to pluck you - outside in the sun.
Your barb in my fingers, the pain in my palm
That stain it still lingers, your extract and balm.
Eden emergent, the edge of a stream,
Verdant the verge in the dark of the dream.

My own poetry, I couldn't possibly comment on...
What Do You Think?
Edit from August 30th 2013... 
Post dedicated to Seamus Heaney who  passed away on this day.

1 comment:

  1. I love the poem! I am a passionate wildlife poetry writer myself. (I in fact have six of them published) I wrote five this afternoon. I will do one about the bramble and it's tasty berries. I agree about how lovely the blackberry is. Good luck with your further foraging! - Eleanor Woodcock :o)