Where Does Culture Bring You?

Tonight is Culture Night here in Ireland and the whole question of what ‘culture’ means to different people/s has been playing on my mind all day.

It probably won’t surprise regular readers of Social Bridge that culture, for me, is at its best when it brings nature and poetry together.

I associate September very much blackberries and going out with our buckets to secret hideaways to pick them. That’s exactly what I did this evening up this old track a few miles from Tramore.

The Blackberry Path
The Blackberry Path

Various poems about blackberries flashed before me, including Seamus Heaney’s Blackberry Picking, Sylvia Plath’s Blackberrying and this beauty from Galway Kinnell:

Blackberry Eating

I love to go out in late September
among the fat, overripe, icy, black blackberries
to eat blackberries for breakfast,
the stalks very prickly, a penalty
they earn for knowing the black art
of blackberry-making; and as I stand among them
lifting the stalks to my mouth, the ripest berries
fall almost unbidden to my tongue,
as words sometimes do, certain peculiar words
like strengths or squinched,
many-lettered, one-syllabled lumps,
which I squeeze, squinch open, and splurge well
in the silent, startled, icy, black language
of blackberry — eating in late September.

Galway Kinnell


I realise that cultural preferences vary hugely and are very wide-ranging indeed. Ireland is alive with cultural activities tonight and I even caught the choir of birds at their dress rehearsal as I came home after my poetic blackberry feast.

The Choir
The Choir

I’d love to hear where the concept of  culture brings you? 


I’m thrilled that Social Bridge has been Shortlisted in the Blog Awards Ireland 2015 in the ‘Best Post’ Category. The Finalists are being decided by Public Vote which concludes on September 21st ~ just a few short days away now. (Many, many thanks to everyone who has voted for me, thus far.)

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Author: socialbridge

I am a sociologist and writer from Ireland. I have worked as a social researcher for 30 years and have had a lifelong passion for writing. My main research interests relate to health care and sense of place.

23 thoughts on “Where Does Culture Bring You?”

  1. For me, culture is about appreciating the local environment and the natural things in life. And then embracing the new tastes, images and sounds that adorn our lives everyday.

  2. It is so nice to see a country celebrating their culture. I too love blackberries but haven’t picked any for decades. They are so sweet when the are ripe and the juice stains everything. Very cool.

  3. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    A post from Jean on Social Bridge with her definition of ‘culture’ which for her is bringing poetry and nature together. I think that is true. Having lived in a number of very different cultures I think I would probably say that culture is about the way people absorb and welcome you into their own. I have discovered so much about myself as well as others by being accepted.

  4. Love the choir of birds Jean! I’m afraid I wasn’t brought up with much culture. My mother has never lived down the mortification of the time I declared to my future Headmaster at the grammar school that my favourite books were about Billy Bunter 🙂 But I do remember her reciting Allingham’s ‘Up the airy mountain, down the rushy glen’ when I was young.

  5. What a terrific poem on blackberries! Anything I wrote would have to include chiggers, I’m afraid. That first photograph is heavenly, by the way. And I ALWAYS stop to look at the birds, gossiping on the lines.

      1. Chiggers? Oh my. They are little critters who line up on blackberry branches by the millions in the deep south (of the States). While you pluck juicy berries, they are sucking the juice out of you! I don’t know if they have mini-helicopters or use grappling hooks, but they prefer to land on your midsection and DIG IN. Evil little buggers.

  6. Love the culture, the blackberries and the music-staff birds! (2nd the thought of hating the chiggers of my past, and their friends, the ticks) Our blackberries came in July, so interesting that yours (in a milder climate too) come in September.

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