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by Seamus Heaney

Lines 22-24 Summary

Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.

Lines 22-23

I always felt like crying. It wasn't fair
That all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.

  • Yep, he's officially bummed.
  • Sense number five! He's used all five senses in this poem: sight, hearing, taste, smell, touch.
  • We also get the hint that maybe he was pretty young to get so upset about rotten fruit.
  • This is also the first time the berries are described outright at "lovely." So our suspicion that these were important to the speaker is confirmed.

Line 24

Each year I hoped they'd keep, knew they would not.

  • Every year he hoped the berries wouldn't spoil like this, but knew that of course they would.
  • The very end sets up this conflict between a wish and "knowing better." He knows the facts of rotting, but hopes they'll stay perfectly ripe anyway.
  • The "each year" reminds us that this is a tradition for the speaker. That gives it a little more importance, right? That it wasn't just a one-time thing.

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