Blackberries Yusef Komunyakaa Analysis

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Childhood and innocence are things that are seen as sacred to those who have outgrown the first and lost the latter. However, these two concepts are less linked and more complicated than one would prefer to believe. Metaphor is often used to translate difficult to describe experiences and concepts into forms that those unfamiliar with these experiences will find easier to understand and more relatable, to make the indefinite definite and the intangible tangible. The purpose of metaphor and imagery in Yusef Komunyakaa’s poem “Blackberries” is to express the complicated and oftentimes confusing emotions which are associated with being a child of African American descent in the rural United States. Childhood is a time of innocence; however, the childhood being described and portrayed in “Blackberries” , while still innocent, is informed and heavily influenced by decades of slavery and racism (which still continues to the present day, …show more content…
This image describes how the juice of the blackberries stained the speaker’s hand “like a printer’s/Or thief’s before a police blotter”; however, this also connotes blackberries with something criminal or shameful. (This comparison may also calls to mind a more innocent image – that of a child playing cops and robbers.) This contrasts with the images used in the final two lines of the first stanza. The speaker states the ground was “consecrated” by the juices of the blackberries. They were made holy and sacred by the same juices which made the speaker a criminal. This is a contradiction that persists throughout every stanza of the entire poem. Purity and innocence are conflated with shame and guilt in order to portray the complex emotions that the speaker feels about his situation as an African American boy – a child who has not been allowed to be a child before he is an African American due to the cultural history of racism in the United

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