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Poetry readings: Lying


Poetry readings: Blackberries for Amelia
Richard Wilbur Poet
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This is a relatively new poem of mine, and it's called Blackberries For Amelia. Amelia is my granddaughter, and with her I did at one time or another a good deal of berry-picking. She's now off at college so we pick berries not quite so often, but this looks back at it.

Blackberries for Amelia

Fringing the woods, the stone walls, and the lanes,
Old thickets everywhere have come alive,
Their new leaves reaching out in fans of five
From tangles overarched by this year's canes.
They have their flowers too, it being June,
And here or there in brambles dark and light
Are small five-petaled blooms of chalky white,
As random-clustered and as loosely strewn
As the far stars, of which we now are told
That ever faster do they bolt away,
And that a night may come in which some say,
We shall have only blackness to behold.
I have no time for any change so great,
but I shall see the August weather spur
Berries to ripen where the flowers were-
Dark berries, savage sweet, and worth the wait-
And there will come the moment to be quick
And save some from the birds, and I shall need
Two pails, old clothes in which to stain and bleed,
And a grandchild to talk with while we pick.

Well, that's a poem about my grandchild and berries. For certain it's also a poem which has to do with the territory around here, with the bushes which come up every year in Cummington Massachusetts.


Acclaimed US poet Richard Wilbur (1921-2017) published many books and was twice awarded the Pulitzer Prize. He was less well known for creating a musical version of Voltaire's “Candide” with Bernstein and Hellman which is still produced throughout the world today.

Listeners: David Sofield

David Sofield is the Samuel Williston Professor of English at Amherst College, where he has taught the reading and writing of poetry since 1965. He is the co-editor and a contributor to Under Criticism (1998) and the author of a book of poems, Light Disguise (2003).

Tags: Blackberries For Amelia, Massachusetts

Duration: 2 minutes, 10 seconds

Date story recorded: April 2005

Date story went live: 29 September 2010