“Blueberries” was originally published by Robert Frost in the 1914 book North of Boston.
The poem reads like a conversation between two people where one of the speakers has just come across a patch of ripe berries. This poem was possibly inspired by Frost’s early years of picking berries with his sister on their aunt’s farm.(1)
Blueberries as big as the end of your thumb, Real sky-blue, and heavy, and ready to drum In the cavernous pail of the first one to come!
After admiring the berries, the speakers turn their attention to the resilience of nature. Specifically, the way that the land recovers from a fire.
Why, there hasn’t been time for the bushes to grow. That’s always the way with the blueberries, though: There may not have been the ghost of a sign Of them anywhere under the shade of the pine, But get the pine out of the way, you may burn The pasture all over until not a fern Or grass-blade is left, not to mention a stick, And presto, they’re up all around you as thick And hard to explain as a conjuror’s trick.”
Next, the dialogue focuses on the impact of wild berries on the community.
“He seems to be thrifty; and hasn’t he need, With the mouths of all those young Lorens to feed? He has brought them all up on wild berries, they say, Like birds. They store a great many away. They eat them the year round, and those they don’t eat They sell in the store and buy shoes for their feet.”
But perhaps my favorite part of the poem is the description of the Loren children.
“I wish I knew half what the flock of them know Of where all the berries and other things grow, Cranberries in bogs and raspberries on top Of the boulder-strewn mountain, and when they will crop. I met them one day and each had a flower Stuck into his berries as fresh as a shower; Some strange kind—they told me it hadn’t a name.”
The poem concludes with a discussion about the speaker’s earlier interactions with the Loren family and some fond memories of their own berry picking.
Robert Frost once said in an interview with Harvey Breit: “One thing I care about, and wish young people could care about, is taking poetry as the first form of understanding. If poetry isn’t understanding all, the whole world, then it isn’t worth anything.”(2)
In this poem, Frost is not only talking about berries, but about conservation, economics, community, and family. He is talking about the whole world that emerges from a blueberry patch. “Blueberries” is an investigation into the interdependent nature of humanity and highlights that even a berry patch can have a tremendous impact on a community.
Let me know what you think. Or, if you have a favorite Frost poem that makes you feel more connected to nature. Please let me know in the comments section below.
- The Frost Place: Robert Frost’s Blueberries
- PoetryFoundation.org: Robert Frost
- Poets.org: Blueberries by Robert Frost
- Wikisource: North of Boston