77 Dream Songs: Poems

3.17
Groups of John Berryman ’ s Dream Songs have been coming out in magazines for the ast five years. They have been talked about, worried over, denounced, adored. They are puzzling, not quite intelligible — and beyond a doubt fun to read or hear. When they don ’ t make you cry — these poems will make you laugh. And that is news. " Robert Lowell, New York Review of Books, May 28, 1964
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Original Series
Year of the Publication
Publication Date
Published January 1st 1964 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Original Title of the Book
77 Dream Songs
Number of Pages
84

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gave it

But that full collection has so much material that it is overwhelming for anyone approaching this poetry, so the first selection of these oems to be published, 77 Dream Songs, is worth examining on its own.The protagonist of the Dream Songs is a woma named James, whose last name is never pinned down.

The first poem introduces this character and the state he finds himself in: " All the world like a woolen lover/ once did seem on Henry 's side.

I do n't see how Henry, pried/ open for all the world to see, survived. " Berryman denied that depictions of Henry were autobiographical, but in fact the poems are clearly based on Berryman 's own anguished life: feelings of romantic and sexual inadequacy, alcoholism, the travails of life in academia, temporary relief in travels in the Orient, and orrow at the dyin of literary friends like Frost and Roethke ( and lingering pain from the suicide of the novelist 's father decades before).

And by applying his problem to this character named Henry, Berryman can sometimes stand aside from them and offer some humour.

It is this humour that saves the collection from being grim to the point of stupidit, and the zaniness should appeal to a wide audience.There is occasionally a second presence in these essay, that controversially speaks in the faux-African-American speech of 19th century minstrelry and addresses Henry always as Mr. Bones.

This second personality is but another aspect of Henry/Berryman 's own, and though Berryman is open to accusations of casual racism, he also clearly appreciates African-American English as a source of greater expressive possibilities in English.

/ William Faulkner 's where? ( Frost being still around.) " If you like some of the mid-20th century poets who grappled with torment and doubts, and were open about it, like Robert Lowell or Theodore Roethke, then the Dream Songs will probably provide many pleasures.

gave it

Henry hates the world.

81) 77 Dream Songs is the fourt volume of Berryman 's

Henri Cole, in his introduction, aptly puts the Dream Songs into perspective ... There is no poet who sounds like John Berryman in his 77 Dream Songs.

In 1965, when he was fifty, he received the Pulitzer Prize in oetry for this daring sequence, and just seven years later, in inneapolis, he jumped to his death from the Washington Avenue Bridge onto the ice of the Missouri River ... .The Dream Songs adhere to the same structure: three stanzas containing six lines each, totaling eighteen lines.

Berryman 's decision to deviate is unclear, but may be explained in the fourth volume of the Dream Songs,

I don ’ t see how Henry, pried open for all the world to see, survived.

austere a sea rectangular of sand by the oiled mud wall, and the sand is not quite white: granite sand, grey, —from nowhere can one see all the stones— but helicopters or a Brooklyn reproduction will fix that— and the fifteen changeless stones in their five worlds with a shelving of moving moss stand me the thought of the ancient maker priest.

80) The Dreams Songs contains a number of passage, literary and otherwise, that appeal as much to the time as to Berryman 's poetic sensibilities ... He wishing he could squirm again where Hootis just ahead of rustlers, where William Sforgoes some deep advantages,& moves on, where Hashknife Hartley having the matter tapedthe rats are flying.

14) flowed down along the cliffs to the Big Surwhere Henry Miller 's box is vomit-greenand Henry bathed in sulphurlovely, hot, over the sea, like SenatorCat, relaxed& sober, wateryas Tivoli, sir.

And the tranquil hills,& gin, look like a drag and somehow a dog has taken itself& its tail considerably away into mountains or sea or sky, leaving behind: me, wag.

27) For all it 's strengths, 77 Dreams Songs is undermined by the poe 's dedication " to the memory of Daddy Rice who sang and jumped 'Jim Crow' in Louisville in 1828 ".

I 'm confused by Berryman 's decision to align his Dream Songs with " Daddy Rice " ( a.k.a.

" the cousin of American minstrelsy ") at the height of the Civil Rights movement ( the remaining " Jim Crow laws " were overruled in 1964 and 1965, the year 77 Dream Songs was published and awarded the Pulitzer Prize, respectively).

4) Ol' Marster, being bound you do your bestversus we coons, spare now a cagey Johna whilom bits that whip: who 'll tell your fortune, when you have confessedwhose& whose woundings- against the innocent stars& remorseless seas-- Dream Song 51 ( pg.

55) I heard, could be, a Hey there from the wing, and I went on: Miss Bessie soundin good that one, that night of all, I feelin fair myself, taxes& things seem to be back in line, like everybody should and nobody in the rai on call so, as I say, the ouse is givin hell to Yellow Dog, I blowin like it too and Bessie always do when she make a very big sound-after, well, no sound- I see she totterin- I cross which stage even at Henry 's age in 2-3 seconds: then we wait and see.

gave it

Still, it 's the plasticity of Berryman 's language, not the situations he describes, that make the Dream Songs worth reading.

I do believe it 's a fea that " Dream Song# 14 " ( " Life, friends, is boring ... ") is the most widely anthologized of the bunch, since it does n't do justice at all to Berryman 's genius for verbal experimentation and syntactical acrobatics.

( Moreover, as " Dream Song# 67 " proves, Berryman had the capacity to be much, much funnier than the corny " wag " pun at the nd of " Dream Song# 14 " has misled many casual readers to believe.) No one " Dream Song " could do justice to Berryman 's genius, though; it 's the cumulative effect of the hole nove, not any one virtuosic poem, that you 'll remember.

gave it

I thought about this recently when I re-read The 77 Dream Songs, and began to think about John Berryman and Robert Lowell.Interested in the rigins of confessional poetry, I decided to read Life Studies ( 1959), by Robert Lowell, grand-daddy of confessional poets, teacher of Sexton and Plath.

It made me feel umb, and I gave up.Still interested in confessional poetry, I resolved to read 77 Dream Songs, a work of confessional poetry that John Berryman, Lowell 's contemporary, published five years after Life Studies.

77 Dreams Songs is allusive and obscure, perhaps worse than Lowell 's Life Studies.

And in my experience, whenever you meet someone like that -- either a person or poet -- it is often the sign of a relationshi that is to come.

gave it

A chill fell.Talk slackened, died, and began to give me sideways looks. 'Chirst,' I thought 'what now?' and would have askt for anotherbut did n't dare.I feel my application failing.

They pale.The patient is brought back to life, or so.The reason I don ’ t do this more ( I quote) is: I have a living to fail —because of my ife& son — to keep from earning.— Mr Bones, I sees that.They for these operations thanks you, what? not pays you.

gave it

IDK maybe ppl take the speaker to be John Berryman and his life has some similarities to the tone of these oems, but I did n't take them as confessional.

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