Online Poems

for Craig White's Literature Courses


(1960, 1971)

by Sylvia Plath





Discussion questions:

1. What's Romantic (or not) about the poem?

2. How or why is lyric poetry a standard genre for Romanticism?

3. What gothic elements are identifiable? What mood or tone do they build?

4. Given that the poem is written during the Modern or postmodern era, how may "Blackberrying" transcend Romanticism to become Modern(ist) or something else?


Chough (pronounced /chuf/)
member of Crow family


by Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath
Nobody in the lane, and nothing, nothing but blackberries,   
Blackberries on either side, though on the right mainly,
A blackberry alley, going down in hooks, and a sea
Somewhere at the end of it, heaving. Blackberries
Big as the ball of my thumb, and dumb as eyes                     (5)
Ebon in the hedges, fat
With blue-red juices. These they squander on my fingers.
I had not asked for such a blood sisterhood; they must love me.
They accommodate themselves to my milkbottle, flattening their sides.

Overhead go the choughs in black, cacophonous flocks—     (10)  [chough /chuf/ =small, crow-like bird]
Bits of burnt paper wheeling in a blown sky.
Theirs is the only voice, protesting, protesting.
I do not think the sea will appear at all.
The high, green meadows are glowing, as if lit from within.
I come to one bush of berries so ripe it is a bush of flies,                   (15)
Hanging their bluegreen bellies and their wing panes in a Chinese screen.
The honey-feast of the berries has stunned them; they believe in heaven.   
One more hook, and the berries and bushes end.

The only thing to come now is the sea.
From between two hills a sudden wind funnels at me,                        (20)
Slapping its phantom laundry in my face.
These hills are too green and sweet to have tasted salt.
I follow the sheep path between them. A last hook brings me   
To the hills’ northern face, and the face is orange rock   
That looks out on nothing, nothing but a great space                          (25)
Of white and pewter lights, and a din like silversmiths   
Beating and beating at an intractable metal.

(1960, 1971); from