From 11:00PM PDT on Friday, July 1 until 5:00AM PDT on Saturday, July 2, the Shmoop engineering elves will be making tweaks and improvements to the site. That means Shmoop will be unavailable for use during that time. Thanks for your patience!
We have changed our privacy policy. In addition, we use cookies on our website for various purposes. By continuing on our website, you consent to our use of cookies. You can learn about our practices by reading our privacy policy.
© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.



by Seamus Heaney

Blackberry-Picking Theme of Greed

Well, the kid can't eat just one! He wants tons and tons of berries, a whole secret stash just for himself. He's obsessed with searching for them. He carries berries in anything that will hold them. He stores them in a bath (now that's a lot of berries). "Blackberry-Picking" shows us the determined energy behind greed and its negative consequences.

Questions About Greed

  1. At what point do you realize it's not just moderate desire but greed that drives these boys to pick the berries?
  2. Do you think if they weren't so greedy, the results would have been different (their berries wouldn't have spoiled)?
  3. Do you think there's a conclusive moral to this poem? Is Heaney trying to say that greed is a punishable sin? What makes you think that?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Though Heaney shows the boys' greed, the poem's tone isn't a punishing one. He sees greed as something inherent to their age.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...