In praise of Berryman

I perfect my metres
until no mosquito can get through…

Beryman, Dreamsong 297

In the vagaries of poets’ reputations, Berryman is now up, while Lowell is down. This is a reversal of thirty years ago. Who can say why? I fell in love with Berryman’s Dreamsongs in my early twenties. They have two ongoing personae: Henry, a stand in for Berryman himself, and Mr. Bones, a wisecracking minstrel who sees through Henry. In my innocence and arrogance I wrote a Henry poem, in imitation and homage, and sent it to Berryman. He responded with a wonderfully kind letter.  This wasn’t long before his suicide in 1972. Continue reading “In praise of Berryman”