Blackberries Mary Oliver Analysis

1378 Words6 Pages
A Berry Healing Escape
American conservation activist John Burroughs divulges, “I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order”(“Nature Quotes”). The wise statement proves true, as nature functions as an impeccable place for one to reflect and rebuild, and also grants the opportunity to unearth one’s true identity. Burroughs does not stand-alone as he takes advantage nature’s comforting powers; the speakers of both Mary Oliver’s “August” and Yusef Komunyakaa's “Blackberries” also turn to nature as a refuge from their own troubles. The subjects of both poems, each confronted with a similarly daunting situation, seek refuge from life’s hardships through the symbolic act of blackberry picking in nature, although the
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Even thought the subject absconds to nature to evade their sufferings, a representation of life’s heaviest moments lurks in the background. The diction in the phase plays a pivotal role in the development of the author’s situation, as the word “paw” reveals the heavy weight put upon the author. Additionally, Oliver carefully selects words such as “heavy” to convey the immense struggle life places upon this subject’s mind. Again, Oliver reveals insight into the subject’s hardships with the mention of their “ripped arms.” The ripped arms embody the means in which life damages the subject. The marred “arms” function as a constant reminder of the ways in which life knocks the subject down. The physically wounded arms figuratively express circumstances in which life mentally and emotionally damages the subject. Furthermore, the subject of Komunyakaa’s “Blackberries” also battles a difficult situation resulting from the patronizing attitudes of others. The young subject of the poem labors to survive as they balance “a gleaming can in each hand,” endeavoring to sell their sweet fruit, “repeating one dollar” (lines 17-18). The subject vends the blackberries to earn a profit, and to finance a living for him or herself. While other characters mentioned later in the poem receive the pleasures…show more content…
In “August,” the subject turns to the forest, more specifically blackberry picking in the forest, to forget and overcome his or her own troubles. The speaker spends “all day among the high branches”(lines 4-5) fleeing their troubles by “cramming the black honey of summer”(7-8) into their mouth. In an effort to forget their troubles, the speaker devours the sweet, pleasant fruit, an act symbolizing the refuge nature can provide to those in distress. The subject’s “happy tongue” exemplifies how the simple act of picking and eating blackberries in nature can dramatically change one’s situation. The subject travels from a daunting situation to a peaceful state of mind, all through the harvesting of a simple fruit. The author’s newfound contentedness proves the symbolism of blackberries as a safe haven from the world’s evils. The subject specifically turns to blackberries to overcome and seek refuge from the troubles of life, confirming the fruit’s powers as a cleansing retreat. Likewise, blackberry picking symbolizes a refuge from guilt and the rest of the world for the troubled subject of “Blackberries.” The subject describes his or her escape from reality as they eat “the mythology” and fill “a half gallon” with the magical produce (line 10). The
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