Blackberries for Amelia by Richard Wilbur

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 brambled 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.

Richard Wilbur
Listen to Richard Wilbur read this poem.

Notes: Richard Wilbur won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1957 and 1989. This poem centres on his memories of picking blackberries with granddaughter Amelia. Many thanks to Tom Gething for introducing me to this poem.

About Russell Boyle

Russell Boyle is a mathematics teacher, writer, and poet. His poetry anthologies are titled The Beginning, Footprints and Loneliness. Russell is the author of the Year 7 to 8 Mathematics Short-Answer Tasks, the Year 7 to 10 Mathematics Multiple-Choice Tasks, the Year 9 to 10 Extended-Response Tasks, the solutions to the Year 12 VCAA Mathematics Exams and the Web-Programming For Beginners series of courses. Sample poems and questions may be downloaded from
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6 Responses to Blackberries for Amelia by Richard Wilbur

  1. cindy knoke says:

    How perfectly lovely! I have never heard of this poet. Thank you for posting~

  2. Tom Gething says:

    Russell, I’m so glad you liked the poem. Frost’s influence is strong in Wilbur’s poetry. I love the craftsmanship of his structures and the subtlety of his rhymes. I had not heard his reading before. What a delight! Thanks.

  3. Aquileana says:

    Really beautiful… I love the fourth stanza…

    Thanks for sharing Russell!!!.

    Cheers, Aquileana 🙂

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