06 September 2006

John Berryman

[from John Berryman's 77 Dream Songs, 1964]


He lay in the middle of the world, and twitcht.
More Sparine for Pelides,
human (half) & down here as he is,
with probably insulting mail to open
and certainly unworthy words to hear
and his unforgivable memory.

—I seldom go to films. They are too exciting,
said the Honourable Possum.
—It takes me so long to read the ’paper,
said to me one day a novelist hot as a firecracker,
because I have to identify myself with everyone in it,
including the corpses, pal.’

Kierkegaard wanted a society, to refuse to read ’papers,
and that was not, friends, his worst idea.
Tiny Hardy, toward the end, refused to say anything,
a programme adopted early on by long Housman,
and Gottfried Benn
said:—We are using our own skins for wallpaper and we cannot win.


  1. Karen04:34

    Berryman's got Kierkegaard wrong. He didn't mind people reading papers, he just didn't think newspapers ought to control your way of life; he wished others for the freedom to choose.

  2. Kathryn09:33

    A late post about Elaine Scarry. Are you familiar with her book on art and the writer, Dreaming by the Book? Particularly interesting for a poet I think.

  3. I know about it but haven't bought it yet -- another one of hers, The Body in Pain, arrived this week -- I'll be reading that one next.