A recent visit from my best friend and her Irish boyfriend has me thinking these days of all things green.
I lived in Cork, Ireland for 6 months in the spring of 2004. There I was studying at UCC, drinking pints of Murphy’s (NO Guiness allowed in Cork;), attempting to decipher the local cadence and dancing Irish jigs to Celtic beats . I dabbled in the Irish language, which was hard as all #*&%$ and little stuck with me aside from “sláinte” which is more of a tribute to my time spent in pubs than to my disciplined study habits. I also picked up courses in Irish history, Victorian Literature and took a special class specific to Irish Lit. Here is where my true dorkiness is revealed: we visited all of the great classics: Seamus Heaney, James Joyce, George Bernard Shaw, William Butler Yeats, Oscar Wilde and slew of other true artists – and I LOVED every minute of it. The Irish truly do have the gift of gab…well at least while they’ve got a pen in their hand. I thought I would share one of my all time favorite poems and poets here, inspired by you, Dave & Nicole! Thank you for a.) unknowingly allowing my mind to drift back to Seamus Heaney & the beauty of Ireland and b.) making the long trek down to Costa Rica to visit us. It is a true blessing to have the kind of friend where months or years may pass, but yet once you’re back together again it’s as if no time has passed between the two of you at all. I am so fortunate to have you in my life!
Here is the masterpiece: this has been one of my favorite poems since high school. It also reminds me of summers berry picking in Maine. The descriptions are gorgeous. Enjoy! :
Blackberry-Picking by Seamus Heaney
Late August, given heavy rain and sun
For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.
You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
Like thickened wine: summer’s blood was in it
Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for
Picking. Then red ones inked up and that hunger
Sent us out with milk cans, pea tins, jam-pots
Where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots.
Round hayfields, cornfields and potato-drills
We trekked and picked until the cans were full
Until the tinkling bottom had been covered
With green ones, and on top big dark blobs burned
Like a plate of eyes. Our hands were peppered
With thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard’s.
We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre.
But when the bath was filled we found a fur,
A rat-grey fungus, glutting on our cache.
The juice was stinking too. Once off the bush
The fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour.
I always felt like crying. It wasn’t fair
That all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.
Each year I hoped they’d keep, knew they would not.