Heaney’s upbringing on a farm influenced his poetry as well as his life, the farm brought him interactions with nature, animals and hard work. These things are refelected in his poems with connecting themes using significant personal memories of his childhood, this involves the reader and makes them more interested as Heaney describes experiences of his life. The influences on the farm shaped the way he grew up teaching him life lessons in order to mature, which is also conveyed through poems and drove him towards success.
Seamus Heaney grew up on a farm in Ireland which gave him constant interaction with nature and animals. This influenced his poetry and is reflected in the poem ‘Blackberry Picking’, the entire poem is natural imagery in an extended metaphor. An example of this is in the first line of the poem “given heavy rain and sun”, as Heaney refers to the blackberries been rained on and shone on by the sun, in a metaphorical sense Heaney talks about the good and bad experiences ‘rain and sun’ one must receive for nutrients so they can ripen or grow up, like a learning process through good and bad times. The poem harnesses many life lessons that all children must learn in order to mature, such as working hard to get what you want, “where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots”. Heaney uses personification on the briar bushes ‘briars scratched’, it sounds as if they intentionally attacked him and tried to prevent him from collecting more berries. Regardless heaney learnt to push through and remain persistent to get what he wanted, the blackberries. He would work so hard looking everywhere for the berries to find every single last one of them “Round hay fields, cornfields, and potato drills we trekked”, again Heaney learns that to get what he wants he must work hard for it even when things get tough, “Our hands were peppered with thorn pricks”.
Another life lesson Heaney learnt from picking and collecting the blackberries was facing reality. In the end of the poem Heaney writes about how he wished the berries would keep fresh but they never did, “A rat grey fungus, glutting on our cache, the fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour”. Heaney is trying to convey metaphorically that once a child leaves their family’s care, like a berry being picked off a tree they are deprived of their nutrients. This leaves the child facing reality and realising that not everything is perfect in the world. In the poem Heaney writes “it wasn’t fair, that all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot” this is his child self complaining about the fact that things didn’t turn out the way he wanted them to, but he accepts that in the final line of the poem, “Each year i’d hope they’d keep, knew they would not”. After years of picking berries they had finally taught Heaney that not everything will go his way.
Heaney’s family’s fifty acre farm is located in County Derry Northern Ireland and is named ‘Mossbawn’. Heaney’s father was involved in cattle dealing and farming and as a boy Heaney would follow him around watching him work hard. This is another thing that infuenced his poetry as it is shown in the connecting poem’s ‘Digging’ and ‘Follower’. The influence of his father is shown through his pride, admiration and descriptive language in the text ‘Digging’ “I look down till his straining rump among flower beds bends low, comes up twenty years away”. The word ‘straining’ unplies the use of exertion as well as ‘bends low’, he is putting full, maximum force and effort into digging. A hyperbole is used “comes up twenty years away”, this again emphasises the fact that he is working hard, he extends his body completely while coming up with the dirt and contracts completely when bending down for more dirt. The way that Heaney describes the movement of his father seem very strong and hard working by using descriptive words which emphasise his movements. In the poem ‘Follower’ he displays his father with expertise…