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To show a clear contrast between Plath and Heaney I shall study ‘Blackberry-Picking’ by Heaney. The poem begins in a very direct manner setting the scenario, there is no rhythm, rhyme or second meanings “Late August, gives heavy rain and sun for a full week, the Blackberries would ripen”. Then instead of describing the whole scene, he isolates just one berry and talks of that “At first, just one, a glossy purple clot among others red, green, hard as a knot”. Here Heaney is relating to the reader his exact thoughts producing a strong picture in the mind. He adds to this by sharing his own thoughts with the reader “You ate that fist one and its flesh was sweet”.

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He then starts on a more refined use of imagery by always relating his previous description with ones further down. The next clever uses of words after this comes a few lines down when he entwines compound words into his lines to create the feeling that they used everything they could “Sent us out with milk-cans, pea-tins, jam-pots”. It is when the containers begin to fill that Heaney cleverly mixes the senses by using a sound descriptive word to talk of something he sees, “Until the tinkling of the bottom has been covered”, this represents a first use of onomatopoeia.

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This is something I did not notice in Plath’s writing but what I did notice was her imagining the blackberries as eyes as Heaney does here “on top big dark blobs burned like a plate of eyes”. This may suggest a correlation in the writings but I shall talk more of this in my conclusion”. The last line of this verse there is another reference to blood “our palms sticky as Bluebeard’s”. This is the third reference to blood in this verse (the first “a glossy purple clot”) showing that Heaney is well able to link his poems.

Heaney’s amalgamation of alliteration into this poem “But when the bath was filled we found a fur”; shows Heaney’s good use of rhyme, but unlike Plath does not complicate descriptions more than necessary. ‘A rat-grey fungus glutting on our cache”, shows a good and clear use of metaphor, the fungus resembles a rat in its appearance the verb “glutting” also shows a similarity to the way in which a rat acts, a distinct use of personification. This is the only direct use of it I can see in this poem. The last few lines where we see the child in Heaney coming through “It wasn’t fair “. This shows how Heaney loves to recollect this moment through childhood images. Again this is shown in the last two lines when he talks of longing for something to happen even though he knew it never could “Each year I hoped they’d keep, knew they would not”. This is again the thought of a child being spoken of in this final image creating a good description of the activity as a whole and not just the scenery.

From analysing this poem it is clear that Heaney has a great love for his childhood activities of long ago. His use of imagery in this poem shows how he tries to convey the atmosphere in a basic and direct manner. To conclude, I would say that Heaney bases his poem on memories he has had from his childhood and his love for the rural surroundings and way of life, He appeals to all five senses with his use of onomatopoeia. His poems also seem to relate very much to life and learning. He enjoys his nostalgic images and rights about them with a passion.

I see Plath as very much an opposite writer. To her images are unsettling for the world to her is a frightening place full of objects and people that can hurt her (e.g. the sea). She uses her poems to express the journey through life, for example, the Blackberry alley, I have explained, as her life moving forward and she does not know when it will end “I do not think the sea will appear at all”. To finally conclude, I would say that Heaney uses images to express his opinions the readers mind, whereas Plath uses imagery to describe her mind (her feelings and emotions) to the outside world.

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Kylie Garcia

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