John Berryman Poems

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John Berryman
John Allyn Berryman (originally John Allyn Smith) (October 25, 1914 January 7, 1972) was an American poet, born in McAlester, Oklahoma. He was a major figure in American poetry in the second half of the 20th century and often considered one of the founders of the Confessional school of poetry. He was the author of The Dream Songs, which are playful, witty, and morbid. Berryman died by suicide in 1972. Of his youthful self he said, 'I didn't want to be like Yeats; I wanted to be Yeats.' Berryman graduated from Columbia University in 1936. A pamphlet Poems, was published in 1942 and his first proper book The Dispossessed, appeared six years later. His first major work was Homage to Mistress Bradstreet, which appeared in Partisan Review in 1953 and was published as a book in 1956. Another pamphlet, His thought made pockets & the plane buckt followed. However, it was the collection of Dream Songs that gathered him the most admiration. The first volume, entitled 77 Dream Songs, was published in 1964 and won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. The second volume of Dream Songs, entitled His Toy, His Dream, His Rest, appeared in 1968. The two volumes were combined as The Dream Songs in 1969. By that time Berryman, though not a "popular" poet, was well established as an important force in the literary world of poetry, and he was widely read among his contemporaries. In 1970 he published the drastically different Love & Fame. It received many negative reviews, along with a little praise, most notably from Saul Bellow and John Bailey. Despite its negative reception its colloquial style and sexual forthrightness have influenced many younger poets, especially from Britain and Ireland. Delusions Etc., his bleak final collection, which he prepared for printing but did not live to see appear, continues in a similar vein. Though it contains some wonderful poems, such as 'He Resigns' and 'The Triumph of Beethoven', it is generally less successful. Another book of poems, Henry's fate, culled from Berryman's manuscripts, appeared posthumously, as did a book of essays The Freedom of the Poet and some drafts of a novel, Recovery.

dream song 14
 
 
Life, friends, is boring. We must not say so.
After all, the sky flashes, the great sea yearns,... [read poem]
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