Comparison the Poems Blackberries by Ellen Hunnicutt and August by Mary Oliver Essay

July 16, 2021 by Essay Writer

Updated: Feb 1st, 2019

Blackberries is one of the masterpieces by Ellen Hunnicutt. The poem narrates the story of a woman and her husband on their camping trip. August, on the other hand, by Mary Oliver narrates the story of a woman who speaks about picking blackberries. She compares the practice of picking berries with the act of reaching for her freedom (Pike 359). She describes herself as a bear reaching for honey. These two poems portray the position of women in the society and their specific gender roles.

The first similarity between these two poems is in the use of poetic devices. The first poetic device used in the poem is metaphor. In the poem August, the author writes ‘the thick paw of my life’. This is a metaphor because it does not refer to a physical body (Pike 359). This refers to the moment, like of an animal. This is also notable in the poem by Ellen.

The poet writes ‘smoothed the blanket’. This is figurative because the poet uses imagery to portray the role of women in the society. Assonance is common in these two poems. For instance, similar vowel sounds are evident in the line ‘it has a funny taste’. In the poem August, the line ‘black honey of summer’ also has assonance (Pike 359).

As well, blackberries in the two poems represent the duties and nature of women lives in the wider society. The poets rely on blackberries to portray different gender roles and position of women in the society. While describing the positions of women and their roles, the poems go further to present new ideas whereby women’s roles appear to change in the society (Pike 359).

Ellen Hennicutt’s poem informs the reader of a wife and husband on their camping trip. The husband appears happy after venturing off to pick blackberries. While the husband is comfortable in the woods, the wife is uncomfortable because she believes that her role is in the house.

Furthermore, while talking with her husband, she appears to sooth the sheet she is sitting on. This indicates her role of making a bed as a woman. Later, the wife appears to eat the berries. In the poem by Ellen, it appears that women might want to pick blackberries but it is not entirely their duty. However, it becomes clear that gender roles are beginning to change whereby women are undertaking some of the duties specifically designed for men (Pike 361).

The main difference is that the poem by Oliver has five stanzas but does not follow a strict pattern. The poet uses fourteen lines for the poem, like a sonnet (Pike 359). This means that the poem does not rhyme and divides into three-line stanzas and one two-line stanza. On the other hand, Ellen Hennicutt’s poem is a free verse thus making it different from that of Mary Oliver. The poem by Ellen views women as individuals who are unable to work in the woods while Oliver’s poem presents a different position of women in the society.

From this discussion, it is notable that these two poems examine the plight of women in the society. With the changing gender roles, Ellen’s poem shows how women work as housewives while the poem by Oliver presents a new sense of freedom to women (Pike 362). The use of imagery, assonance and themes make the poems similar thus examining the major issues affecting women in the society today.

Works Cited

Pike, David. Literature: A World of Writing. New York: Pearson Longman, 2011. Print.

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