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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Strawberry Picking

That time of year again, so brief, so miraculous, one can only look at a small basket of these things and think, “Jackpot!”

Amherst, Massachusetts native (and classmate of Emily Dickinson), Helen Hunt Jackson, novelist and Indian rights activist, found a few more words to express it in her poem, “My Strawberry” published in “Verses by H.H.” in 1882 (Roberts Brothers, Boston).

O marvel, fruit of fruits, I pause
To reckon thee. I ask what cause
Set free so much of red from heats
At core of earth, and mixed such sweets
With sour and spice: what was that strength
Which out of darkness, length by length,
Spun all thy shining thread of vine,
Netting the fields in bond as thine.
I see thy tendrils drink by sips
From grass and clover's smiling lips;
I hear thy roots dig down for wells,
Tapping the meadow's hidden cells.
Whole generations of green things,
Descended from long lines of springs,
I see make room for thee to bide
A quiet comrade by their side;
I see the creeping peoples go
Mysterious journeys to and fro,
Treading to right and left of thee,
Doing thee homage wonderingly.
I see the wild bees as they fare,
Thy cups of honey drink, but spare.
I mark thee bathe and bathe again
In sweet unclaendared spring rain.
I watch how all May has of sun
Makes haste to have thy ripeness done,
While all her nights let dews escape
To set and cool thy perfect shape.
Ah, fruit of fruits, no more I pause
To dream and seek thy hidden laws!
I stretch my hand and dare to taste,
In instant of delicious waste
On single feast, all things that went
To make the empire thou hast spent.


John Hayes said...

Yes, it's berry-picking time. Out here, the berries almost everyone picks are huckleberries-- the western blueberry. It's a bit of an adventure tho, because huckleberries grow in the high piney woods & are also a favorite food of bears.

Fun post-- liked the poem.

Jacqueline T Lynch said...

Hi, John. Huckleberries! I've wondered what they looked like. Blueberries? Are there any farms producing cultivated huckleberries? Or just grab your bucket, head for the woods and look out for the bears?

John Hayes said...

Hi Jacqueline:

There may be such places, but I'm not aware of them-- it's basically the latter-- try not to run afoul of bears, not to mention mosquitos.

Huckleberries are a lot like blueberries, but they are smaller. They're delicious, so the conditions for picking them are almost worth it!

Jacqueline T Lynch said...

Thanks for the update. I'm going to have to try me some huckleberries sometime. I'll negotiate with the bears.

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