Poetry Monday

Washington Ave Bridge_optI checked, and it’s been over a year since I posted a Berryman poem. Time for another–sadly prophetic–Dreamsong. The poem mentions Richard & Helen Blackmur.  You can read the details of the visit here.


Henry’s Understanding

He was reading late, at Richard’s, down in Maine,
aged 32? Richard & Helen long in bed,
my good wife long in bed.
All I had to do was strip & get into my bed,
putting the marker in the book, & sleep,
& wake to a hot breakfast.

Off the coast was an island, P’tit Manaan,
the bluff from Richard’s lawn was almost sheer.
A chill at four o’clock.
It only takes a few minutes to make a man.
A concentration upon now & here.
Suddenly, unlike Bach,

& horribly unlike Bach, it occurred to me
that one night, instead of warm pajamas,
I’d take off my clothes
& cross the damp cold lawn & down the bluff
into the terrible water & walk forever
under it out toward the island.

John Berryman

6 thoughts on “Poetry Monday

  1. Sitting now in Wilson Library near the end of the Washington Avenue Bridge needing to get back to my research but somehow ending up at your site and this poem. Then drawn to Berryman’s volumes on the shelves nearby. Thank you for reminding me of this great poet, and that cold day of my freshman year when we lost him.

    1. About 43 years ago, I wrote to Berryman, and got two incredibly kind letters back from him. I hope that most of your memories are fond–I know he wasn’t an easy person. But what a poet! Thanks for your note.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *