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(25 October 1914 - 7 January 1972 / McAlester, Oklahoma)

Quotations

  • ''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
    (repeatingly) "Ever to confess you're bored
    means you have no
    Inner Resources." I conclude now I have no
    inner resources, because I am heavy bored.''
    John Berryman (1914-1972), U.S. poet. 77 Dream Songs, no. 14 (1964).
    38 person liked.
    5 person did not like.
  • ''Bats have no bankers and they do not drink
    and cannot be arrested and pay no tax
    and, in general, bats have it made.''
    John Berryman (1914-1972), U.S. poet. 77 Dream Songs, no. 63 (1964).
  • ''"A poet is a man speaking to men":
    But I am then a poet, am I not?—''
    John Berryman (1914-1972), U.S. poet. A Professor's Song (l. 10-11). . . New Oxford Book of American Verse, The. Richard Ellmann, ed. (1976) Oxford University Press.
  • ''Filling her compact & delicious body
    with chicken paprika, she glanced at me
    twice.''
    John Berryman (1914-1972), U.S. poet. Filling Her Compact (l. 1-3). . . Oxford Book of American Light Verse, The. William Harmon, ed. (1979) Oxford University Press (DREAM SONGS).
  • ''only the fact of her husband & four other people
    kept me from springing on her''
    John Berryman (1914-1972), U.S. poet. Filling Her Compact (l. 5-7). . . Oxford Book of American Light Verse, The. William Harmon, ed. (1979) Oxford University Press (DREAM SONGS).
  • ''Where did it all go wrong? There ought to be a law
    against Henry.''
    John Berryman (1914-1972), U.S. poet. Filling Her Compact (l. 18-19). . . Oxford Book of American Light Verse, The. William Harmon, ed. (1979) Oxford University Press (DREAM SONGS).
  • ''Nothing very bad happen to me lately.
    How you explain that?—I explain that, Mr Bones,
    terms o' your bafflin odd sobriety.
    Sober as man can get, no girls, no telephones,
    what could happen bad to Mr Bones?''
    John Berryman (1914-1972), U.S. poet. Henry's Confession (l. 1-5). . . Norton Anthology of American Literature, The, Vols. I-II. Nina Baym and others, eds. (2d ed., 1985) W. W. Norton & Company (DREAM SONGS).
  • ''I'd take off all my clothes
    & cross the damp cold lawn & down the bluff
    into the terrible water & walk forever
    under it out toward the island.''
    John Berryman (1914-1972), U.S. poet. Henry's Understanding (l. 15-18). . . New Oxford Book of American Verse, The. Richard Ellmann, ed. (1976) Oxford University Press.
  • ''The world is gradually becoming a place
    Where I do not care to be any more.''
    John Berryman (1914-1972), U.S. poet. His Toy, His Dream, His Rest, no. 149 (1968). Berryman ended his life by jumping off a bridge over the Mississippi River.
  • ''What he has now to say is a long
    wonder the world can bear & be.''
    John Berryman (1914-1972), U.S. poet. Huffy Henry Hid the Day (l. 13-14). . . Norton Anthology of American Literature, The, Vols. I-II. Nina Baym and others, eds. (2d ed., 1985) W. W. Norton & Company (DREAM SONGS).

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The Traveller

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
Will never become as we are, try as he can.'

They pointed me out at the station, and the guard
Looked at me twice, thrice, thoughtfully & hard.

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