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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 431

Galway Kinnell’s Blackberry Eating elaborates the surety of natural aesthetics and sensibility. One almost gets the sense that they are reading a poem by Robert Frost or Henry David Thoreau as they picture the scene of blackberry cultivation in late September that Kinnell paints. Thus, some of the most important...

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Galway Kinnell’s Blackberry Eating elaborates the surety of natural aesthetics and sensibility. One almost gets the sense that they are reading a poem by Robert Frost or Henry David Thoreau as they picture the scene of blackberry cultivation in late September that Kinnell paints. Thus, some of the most important quotations one might take from this poem comes from the arcadian imagery used to bring the blackberry environment to life.

For example, one line reads: “among the fat, overripe, icy, black blackberries,” when describing the narrator’s morning blackberry-eating routine. Each of the adjectives here that Kinnell uses to describe the blackberries serves a unique semiotic function to connect together the lives of the blackberries, the person who picks them, and of those who might read of it. The blackberries are “fat,” signifying sumptuousness and leisure. Just like the narrator, the blackberries have had time to ripen, mature, and enjoy the splendors of life to a high level of satisfaction. Such interpretation also characterizes the use of the adjective “overripe” to describe the blackberries as well, as their degree of ripeness again correlates to their maturity and longevity.

When we consider that the narrator is picking the blackberries in late September, a month (and time of that month) close to the end of the year, the age of the blackberries is again evoked as a correlation to their progression through the season of cultivation. They are “icy,” which might imply something of the September temperature but might also mean to suggest that the blackberries have been made cool and fresh by their time in the autumn breeze, and thus metaphorically “ready” to be picked just as the narrator is going to pick them.

Finally, we might consider why Kinnell decided to use the word “black” to describe the blackberries. Is not their color implied in their very name? Again, this decision may simply be Kinnell’s desire to reinforce the sensory experience of the narrator as he moves about the blackberry orchard. The imagery and physical description of the environment is a central theme to his work, and the greater the level of description, the more likely it is to convey the beauties of the natural world.

The poem is saturated with other such examples of imagery. “Prickly” blackberry stalks, blackberries which are “squeezed” and “splurged,” a “silent, startled, icy, black language” that the narrator uses to describe his eating, and so on. These words are used to bring the scenery to life and to connect the reader as closely with the ecological bounty of the blackberry meadows as possible.

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