by Seamus Heaney
Lines 22-24 Summary
Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.
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.
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.