A Version of Pastoral Undreamed of by William Empson

Blackberry Boogie

Along about sunup every day
I grab my bucket and I’m on my way,
I go down the road a-runnin’ and a-kickin’
I’m headed for the patch to do some blackberry pickin.’
I fill my bucket right to the top;
It makes my lips go flippity-flop;
I hear a little voice and it sounds so sad,
It says “don’t pick me now ‘cause I ain’t ripe, dad.”
Blackberry boogie, blackberry boogie,
I draw back and make a flip when it’s blackberry pickin’ time.

I went to see my gal, I set my bucket down.
She said “Hi there, baby, are you goin’ to town?”
I said “Unh unh, honey, I’m a-goin’ where they scratch.
“I’ll meet you in a minute in the blackberry patch.”
She grabbed her bucket and she jumped and squealed,
I’m headed for the bushes and she’s hot on my heels.
I start pickin’ on one end, she picks on the other,
We meet in the middle and she yells “Oh Brother!”
Blackberry boogie, blackberry boogie,
I love that gal when I meet her in the middle of the patch.

We go through the briars walkin’ hand in hand
A-pickin’ blackberries just to beat the band.
I grab her for a kiss; she says “Turn me loose!
“Your lips are all blue from that blackberry juice.”
I hugged her once and said “don’t be coy,
“You know I’m your blackberry pickin’ boy.”
I kissed her then and she let out a sigh
And said “let’s go to my house and bake a pie.”
Blackberry boogie, blackberry boogie,
I’ll be back, little gal, when it’s blackberry pickin’ time.

–by Tennessee Ernie Ford

Source:  http://www.smartlyrics.com/Song624874-Tennessee-Ernie-Ford-Blackberry-boogie-lyrics.aspx   ©EMI, Ltd.

Note: I’ve known this rockabilly song from the ’50s, and it was in my head when I picked blackberries two days ago.  Cornball, perhaps, but an excellent expression of the complex-into-simple, sophisticated urbane view of rural innocence, that pastoral has always been.  We will let the professional psychological analysts speculate on the implications of phrases like “the middle of the patch” and “bake a pie.”  Tennessee Ernie, by the way, had his own network TV variety show, and addressed his audience as “peapickers.”  Ernie, I’m betting, picked few peas himself once he hit Nashville.

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