A Poem Blackberrying by Sylvia Plath

Ted Hughes Plath’s husband quotes that their daughter had been born and that they were returning to England when she wrote the poem in the 1960’s. The motif of role of women is exclaimed in the poem and the struggle for women to balance family and a job during the time. Plath’s style involves the use of extended metaphors as titles in her poems. The title BlackBerrying is an extended metaphor for traditional berry picking, traditionally done by women.

  1. The persona uses obstacles as metaphors to show the block in the path of the artist which created inner conflict as she has mixed emotions between taking care of her family and children and maintaining a career dominated by men.
  2. The persona uses imagery of a journey to the climax of the poem to show the processing of thought, which shows inner conflict as the persona is forced to choose between family and passion.
  3. In the anticlimax of the poem the author uses imagery of hope to build to a climax however the persona in the end does not reach the goal she set out for due to obstacles challenging her creativity and ability to compete with men in the same profession, as a women.

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Obstacles as metaphors

  • blackberrying – “black” lack of hope “ebon” – black
  • “blackberrying alley” – negative imagery – foreboding dangerous “hooks” which is sharp image which also shows negative imagery alluding to peter pan and Captain hook who is the antagonist pirate further illuminated by “a sea” – which can also be translated as joining the ranks of artists, water symbol of rebirth as artist, immersed to compete with men.

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  • “choughs in black” – big ravens adjoined by the ‘c’ , cacophonous flocks.-“ – noisy birds followed by a dash ‘-‘ refers to literary critics and “cacophonous” is a literary word hence the line is about writing.
  • repetition of “protesting” emphasizing their criticism.

Journey and the creative process for a writer (artist)

  • repetition of “nothing” – lack of hope, portraying a creative block in the thought process of an artist. Reference to wintering – extended metaphor, which is also a poem about the lack of creativity in an artist
  • “bits of burnt paper wheeling in a blown sky” reference to wind, destiny fate
  • “green meadows glowing, as if lit from within” colour imagery showing creativity – positive
  • “I come to one bush of berries so ripe it is a bush of flies” – metaphor in reference to creativity shows aggression (frustration with how society works) – “blackberrying as the ball of my thumb, and dumb as eyes” refer to cut where the thumb is fallic symbol in reference to male domination (survival in a man’s world) – competing
  • “accommodate themselves to my milkbottle, flattening their sides” – fitting in (must change to do so) inner conflict to fit into societal expectations and give in to just being a mother and responsibilities of being a woman (milkbottle)

Build to climax

  • line by line last stanza
  • “the only thing to come now is the sea” – freedom
  • “sudden wind funnels at me” – destiny
  • “slapping its phantom laundry in my face” – irony reference to responsibility of being a women objecting the path to becoming what she desires.. which is to become an artist
  • “A last hook” literary word which aides to engage the reader – climac
  • Anticlimax begins as a obstacle-“ rock”
  • repetition “nothing”
  • goal “of white and pewter lights, and a din like silvesmiths”
  • beating and beating at an intractable metal – anti climax intractable metal unbendable (1) societies rules and (2) male domination

Journey of the artist explained through structure of poem

  1. firstly it begins with an artist block
  2. frustration
  3. criticism
  4. inflow of ideas (creation)
  5. anticlimax where creation is overlooked because you are a woman in society as apposed to man..

In conclusion

The poem is significant as it underlines the struggle of women in a male dominated world, which creates external conflict with society and internal conflict as we are put in a position to decide between family life or career. The poem identifies a significant time in her life as she had just given birth to her daughter still with her husband returning to England and the changes in setting must have caused the mixed emotions to flow through as the sudden realization of the responsibility of baby and the well being may hinder her own development in her career but also the drawbacks with her husband and his affairs causes mixed emotions to flow through in this poem also showing her frustration towards men.

Cite this page

A Poem Blackberrying by Sylvia Plath. (2020, Jun 01). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/a-poem-blackberrying-by-sylvia-plath-essay

A Poem Blackberrying by Sylvia Plath

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