John Allyn Berryman was an American poet and scholar, born in McAlester, Oklahoma. He was a major figure in American poetry in the second half of the 20th century and was considered a key figure in the Confessional school of poetry. His best-known work is The Dream Songs.
Life and Career
John Berryman was born and raised in Oklahoma until the age of 10, when his father, John Smith, a banker, and his mother, Martha, who was a schoolteacher, moved to Tampa, Florida. In 1926, in Florida, when the poet was twelve, his father shot and killed himself just outside his son's bedroom window. Berryman was haunted by his father's suicide for the rest of his life and would later ... more »
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John Berryman Poems
Dream Song 1: Huffy Henry Hid The Day
Huffy Henry hid the day, unappeasable Henry sulked. I see his point,—a trying to put things over. It was the thought that they thought
Dream Song 14: Life, Friends, Is Boring
Life, friends, is boring. We must not say so. After all, the sky flashes, the great sea yearns, we ourselves flash and yearn, and moreover my mother told me as a boy
The Ball Poem
What is the boy now, who has lost his ball, What, what is he to do? I saw it go Merrily bouncing, down the street, and then Merrily over--there it is in the water!
Dream Song 29: There Sat Down, Once, A T...
There sat down, once, a thing on Henry's heart só heavy, if he had a hundred years & more, & weeping, sleepless, in all them time Henry could not make good.
They pointed me out on the highway, and they said 'That man has a curious way of holding his head.' They pointed me out on the beach; they said 'That man
Dream Song 113: Or Amy Vladeck Or Riva F...
or Amy Vladeck or Riva Freifeld That isna Henry limping. That's a hobble clapped on mere Henry by the most high GOD
Dream Song 10: There Were Strange Gather...
There were strange gatherings. A vote would come that would be no vote. There would come a rope. Yes. There would come a rope. Men have their hats down. "Dancing in the Dark"
Dream Song 106: 28 July
28 July Calmly, while sat up friendlies & made noise delight fuller than he can ready sing
Dream Song 105: As A Kid I Believed In D...
As a kid I believed in democracy: I 'saw no alternative'—teaching at The Big Place I ah put it in practice: we'd time for one long novel: to a vote—
Dream Song 100: How This Woman Came By T...
How this woman came by the courage, how she got the courage, Henry bemused himself in a frantic hot night of the eight of July, where it came from, did once the Lord frown down
Dream Song 111: I Miss Him. When I Get B...
I miss him. When I get back to camp I'll dig him up. Well, he can prop & watch, can't he, pink or blue, and I will talk to him. I miss him. Slams,
Dream Song 110: It Was The Blue &Amp; Pl...
It was the blue & plain ones. I forget all that. My own clouds darkening hung. Besides, it wasn't serious. They took them in different rooms & fed them lies.
Dream Song 103: I Consider A Song Will B...
I consider a song will be as humming-bird swift, down-light, missile-metal-hard, & strange as the world of anti-matter where they are wondering: does time run backward—
Dream Song 112: My Framework Is Broken, ...
My framework is broken, I am coming to an end, God send it soon. When I had most to say my tongue clung to the roof I mean of my mouth. It is my Lady's birthday
Quotationsmore quotations »
''The artist is extremely lucky who is presented with the worst possible ordeal which will not actually kill him. At that point, he's in business.''John Berryman (1914-1972), U.S. poet. Interview in Writers at Work, Fourth Series, ed. George Plimpton (1976).
Dream Song 1: Huffy Henry Hid The Day
Huffy Henry hid the day,
unappeasable Henry sulked.
I see his point,—a trying to put things over.
It was the thought that they thought
they could do it made Henry wicked & away.
But he should have come out and talked.
All the world like a woolen lover
once did seem on Henry's side.
Then came a departure.
Thereafter nothing fell out as it might or ought.
I don't see how Henry, pried
open for all the world to see, survived.
What he has now to say is a long
wonder the world can bear & be.
Once in a sycamore I was glad
all at ...