Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Mpare and Contrast the Way in Which Heaney

Blackberry Picking by Seamus Heaney and Stealing Peas by Gillian Clarke both approach passion and disappointment in life by describing childhood experience. They explore love and regret through the description of childhood and nature; Blackberry Picking through the explicit meaning of picking blackberries but them decomposing, and Stealing Peas through the explicit meaning of children stealing peas from pea rows in a field in the day, but later on with a girl asking a boy a question and her being given a disappointing and seemingly unexpected answer. Both Blackberry Picking by Seamus Heaney and Stealing Peas by Gillian Clarke are similar in subject; they both are poems about sad or unfortunate childhood events that have perhaps lingered in both of the poets’ memories. â€Å"Blackberry Picking† uses nature as a basis for the narrative. Heaney writes about his childhood experiences; picking berries in â€Å"late august†. Heaney and Clarke both create strong feelings in their poems. In â€Å"Blackberry Picking†, Heaney conveys a sense of lust and greed for the berries: â€Å"We hoarded the fresh berries†, but that afterwards the berries fermented and grew sour: â€Å"The fruit fermented†. Alternatively, Heaney could also be describing the excitement and joy people feel at the beginning of relationships and how it can deteriorate into something that is bitter and rotten. Heaney does this by describing how a fungus grows upon the berries that they had picked, making the â€Å"sweet flesh† of the berries turn sour. Similarly, in â€Å"Stealing Peas†, Gillian Clarke also uses nature as a basis for the narrative when she writes about two teenage lovers crawling in pea rows, stealing the peas and eating them. They crawl in the pea rows, slid the peas down their tongues. The girl asks, â€Å"Who d’you like best? and he replies with â€Å"You’re prettier. She’s funnier. † She writes, â€Å"I wish I hadn’t asked† indicating she regrets having asked. The implicit meaning of â€Å"Stealing Peas† is that a boy and a girl go to a field and have sex in the pea rows: â€Å"We crawled†, â€Å"slit the skins†, â€Å"with bitten nails†, â€Å"chutes of our tongues†-these each help to heighten the air of sexual tension in the second stanza, with the crawling as a way of remaining undetected; showing that what they are doing is perhaps forbidden and could get them in trouble, and this observation is reaffirmed by the mentioning of â€Å"stolen green light†. The use of the word â€Å"stolen† symbolises the loss of virginity or innocence, whilst the â€Å"green† showing the go ahead. The poet also describes how a â€Å"parky† shouted at a â€Å"child we could not see† which could either simply be another child in the field, or a child growing inside the girl- she has become pregnant, or lost her innocence. Heaney and Clarke both create strong feelings in their poems. In â€Å"Blackberry Picking†, Heaney conveys a sense of lust and greed for the berries using images of the children hurriedly filling cans with the berries, and by using words such as â€Å"ripen†, â€Å"flesh†, and â€Å"sticky†. These words have very sensual connotations and give the reader the impression that the poet was experiencing feelings of lust and greed at the time, and that the acts are forbidden. Heaney is also personifying the berries by referring to the â€Å"flesh† of the berries; perhaps showing that he felt feelings towards them that you would feel towards a person. Heaney and Clarkes’ poems are, to an extent, different in their form and layout. And though they both appear different, the poems are both similar in that they both focus more on the positive experiences, rather than the negative. â€Å"Blackberry Picking† is structured into two distinct stanzas with a sharp contrast between them. Heaney writes of the picking of the berries in the first stanza, introduces sexual themes, uses aural devices, and utilises similes and metaphors to create strong imagery. In the second stanza, he then moves on to talk about the how the berries are ruined- a â€Å"rat-grey† fungus, â€Å"glutting† on their â€Å"cache†. There is a notable difference between the two stanzas of â€Å"Blackberry Picking†. The first stanza is very long, describing the joy of the children as they go out collecting berries, but the second stanza, where Heaney talks about the fungus, is considerably shorter- it seems that Heaney is recalling the good part of the memory fondly, whilst quickly brushing over the bad. Unlike â€Å"Blackberry Picking†, Clarke has structured â€Å"Stealing Peas† into four stanzas. In the first stanza, Clarke sets the scene for the poem by describing the tide â€Å"far out†, the â€Å"warm evening† voices and the park â€Å"clipped privet†. In the second stanza the poet describes a boy, mentioning that he wore a â€Å"blue† shirt with an â€Å"Aertex† logo, and more sexual language is introduced: â€Å"filthy with syrups†, â€Å"grime of the town park†, â€Å"tendrils of my hair†. Filthy and grime suggesting the sensual, dirty, and perhaps forbidden acts that they are doing. There also is a notable difference between the four different stanzas of â€Å"Stealing Peas† in terms of length. The first stanza is very short, showing that Clarke is choosing not to remember her surroundings at the time so strongly, while the second stanza is much longer, indicating that the time spent with this boy, crawling in the pea rows together, meant more to her than any other part of the day, and that she herself has selected this part of the memory to stand out more vividly than any other. The third stanza is noticeably shorter, with her asking him â€Å"Who d’you like best? † The use of sound is important in both poems, and both poets use it to great effect. Techniques such as alliteration, onomatopoeia, and rhyme- the words â€Å"purple clot† and â€Å"hard as a knot†, â€Å"smelt of rot† and â€Å"knew they would not† in â€Å"Blackberry Picking†, are all strategically used to evoke images and create sounds by Heaney and Clarke. In â€Å"Blackberry Picking†, the use the letter p in â€Å"pricks, our palms† is short and sharp to emphasise the sharpness of the pricks from the blackberry thorns, b in â€Å"bleached our boots† and â€Å"berries in the byre† is very bubbly and bouncy, reflecting the children’s emotions as they set out on a journey of exploration, whilst the use of f in â€Å"filled we found fur† is also soft sounding- creeping in, similar to how the Heaney talks about how the â€Å"rat-grey fungus† seeps in and ruins the blackberries. Clarke also uses aural devices; alliteration with the use of the letter s in â€Å"slit the skins†, helping the reader to visualise the sounds created when the children, crawling through the rows, and stealing the pea pods, slit the skins open. The â€Å"s†, when said aloud, is a soft sound, but in the context of the stanza, creates a more sinister, hissing sound, as though the skins are being hastily ripped open in lust. Again, the use of the letter s in â€Å"slid the peas† helps the reader visualize– almost hear, the youths sliding the peas down the â€Å"chutes† of their tongues. Lastly, the use of onomatopoeia in â€Å"a lawn-mower murmured†, creates a very sexual feeling- perhaps from the boy, towards the girl. In conclusion, it can be seen that the two poems are alike in many ways such as they both recount childhood experiences that the poets regretted. What I found interesting was how Heaney and Clarke wrote the poems, spending more time describing the good experiences, rather than the unfortunate– in a way suggesting that the poets have selectively recorded these events in their minds.

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