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15 July 2014

The Black Berry — wears a Thorn in his side —

The Black Berry — wears a Thorn in his side —
But no Man heard Him cry —
He offers His Berry, just the same
To Partridge — and to Boy —

He sometimes holds upon the Fence —
Or struggles to a Tree —
Or clasps a Rock, with both His Hands —
But not for Sympathy —

We — tell a Hurt — to cool it —
This Mourner — to the Sky
A little further reaches — instead —
Brave Black Berry —
                                          F548 (1863)  J554

Dickinson has a little fun here anthropomorphizing a blackberry bush – although this one behaves more like a vine, growing along a fence or tree and reaching for the sky. Strictly speaking, the thorn doesn't touch the cane, so it shouldn't hurt, but it would be churlish to insist on it. Better to just imagine the noble plant offering his delicious berry to the first comers despite the thorn in its side. 
Photo: Tim Whithall, Solant News

        Dickinson gets as much drama as she can out of the scene: the "Brave Black Berry" "holds" on to the fence, he "struggles" up the tree, "clasps" a rock with "both his Hands" – and when the pain still continues, he reaches to the Sky. Shouldn't we all take a lesson from this "Mourner"?  Instead, we tend to talk about our hurts to "cool" our pain. 

Hey, that works for me – as does a lovely blackberry cobbler, preferably with Mr. Ice Cream.

Dickinson uses a slant rhyme on "cry" throughout the poem: cry, Boy, Tree, Sympathy, Sky, Berry. 

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