By John Berryman
A wild, masterful Pulitzer Prize'winning cycle of poems that part a century later nonetheless shocks and astounds
John Berryman was once hardly ever unknown while he released 77 Dream Songs, however the quantity used to be, however, a surprise and a revelation. A 'spooky' assortment within the phrases of Robert Lowell--"a maddening paintings of genius."
As Henri Cole notes in his stylish, perceptive creation, Berryman had stumbled on "a looser variety that combined low and high dictions with an odd syntax." Berryman had additionally came across his such a lot enduring regulate ego, a paranoid, passionate, depressed, under the influence of alcohol, irrepressible antihero named Henry or, occasionally, Mr. Bones: "We contact at definite points," Berryman claimed, of Henry, "But i'm an exact human being.''
Henry is probably not genuine, yet he comes alive at the web page. And whereas the main recognized of the Dream Songs starts off, “Life, pals, is boring,” those poems by no means are. Henry lusts: seeing a girl “Filling her compact & scrumptious physique / with fowl páprika” he can slightly restrain himself: “only the very fact of her husband & 4 people / saved me from springing on her.” Henry despairs: “All the realm like a woolen lover / as soon as did appear on Henry’s facet. / Then got here a departure.” Henry, petrified of his personal violent urges, consoles himself: “Nobody is ever missing.”
77 Dream Songs gained the Pulitzer Prize in 1965, yet Berryman’s formal and emotional innovations—he cracks the language open, creates a brand new idiom during which to specific everlasting feelings—remain as alive and rapid this present day as ever.
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Extra info for 77 Dream Songs
I dream of pulleys in the sun all day and no water will cleanse the little stain I wear about my smile. For shame is my hidden lever to fulcrum the earth. “How’s your gear Squeak? ” O leaf out my window. O sky where the tape is blank and loops. I am sad and strange in the late morning, in the early afternoon, in the middle of the night. Yes moon! My hands shake. Where the distance of my life is my arm’s length. No place to live I’ve been told. No place, I’ve been told, and still you want to throw me outta my tent.
That’s where you can find me, carrying my bundle for the pyre? Road, sing the changes your geometry gives. Recondite lines projecting into revisionist fields at dawn. A wobbling moon imitates a mouth in mourning. These gestures caught in blue light become a context become carved upon all features enacted in sleep. A tiny voice has begun to sing the background of everything the foreground blurs. Ecstatic in its trill and because we seek less and settle for more its swell will burst us in our distracted way, our mortgaged fear, adumbrated in kind.
I surrender my vision thus. Because I don’t understand. That joke isn’t funny anymore. It cuts me precisely where laughter is a departure from this parlor. I live on flight 405 departing into an icy altitude—cold and detached. I’m here despite your notices and obituary. That plane didn’t crash. It still hovers around my head. The constant hum of its engines reminds me I still haven’t landed. I know this by the way a hand like a landing strip will reach over to wave here, here, here. So here again is the earth.