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 was once, 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 based, perceptive advent, Berryman had chanced on "a looser kind that combined low and high dictions with an odd syntax." Berryman had additionally stumbled on his so much enduring modify ego, a paranoid, passionate, depressed, inebriated, irrepressible antihero named Henry or, occasionally, Mr. Bones: "We contact at sure points," Berryman claimed, of Henry, "But i'm a precise 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 lady “Filling her compact & scrumptious physique / with bird páprika” he can slightly restrain himself: “only the very fact of her husband & 4 people / stored me from springing on her.” Henry despairs: “All the area like a woolen lover / as soon as did look on Henry’s part. / Then got here a departure.” Henry, scared 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 within which to specific everlasting feelings—remain as alive and instant this day as ever.