By John Berryman
A wild, masterful Pulitzer Prize'winning cycle of poems that part a century later nonetheless shocks and astounds
John Berryman used to be hardly ever unknown whilst he released 77 Dream Songs, however the quantity was once, however, a surprise and a revelation. A 'spooky' assortment within the phrases of Robert Lowell--"a maddening paintings of genius."
As Henri Cole notes in his stylish, perceptive advent, Berryman had chanced on "a looser type that combined low and high dictions with an odd syntax." Berryman had additionally found his such a lot enduring modify ego, a paranoid, passionate, depressed, inebriated, irrepressible antihero named Henry or, occasionally, Mr. Bones: "We contact at yes points," Berryman claimed, of Henry, "But i'm an exact human being.''
Henry will not be genuine, yet he comes alive at the web page. And whereas the main recognized of the Dream Songs starts off, “Life, pals, is boring,” those poems by no means are. Henry lusts: seeing a lady “Filling her compact & scrumptious physique / with fowl páprika” he can slightly restrain himself: “only the very fact of her husband & 4 people / stored me from springing on her.” Henry despairs: “All the area like a woolen lover / as soon as did appear on Henry’s part. / Then got here a departure.” Henry, fearful of his personal violent urges, consoles himself: “Nobody is ever missing.”
77 Dream Songs received the Pulitzer Prize in 1965, yet Berryman’s formal and emotional innovations—he cracks the language open, creates a brand new idiom within which to precise everlasting feelings—remain as alive and fast at the present time as ever.
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Additional info for 77 Dream Songs
Third, pragmatism functions in the strategic, experimental deployment of diction and syntax that force the reader in turn to conduct her own active inquiry into how meanings and values (and thus the self) are culturally constructed and might be remade through discourse. While these pragmatic elements are proper to many texts one might consider modern or postmodern, what marks these texts as pragmatically pastoral is their direct invocation of the pastoral mode as a signal of their conscious intervention into national debates as to the nature of the new ideal self and good society, as well as the indebtedness—direct and indirect—of most of these poets to the work of Dewey and James.
14 Pragmatists and progressives emphasized relationships beyond those that were economic and proprietary in nature, with strictly vertical lines of responsibility and ownership, instead emphasizing a more Pastoral Ideology, Pragmatic Response ● 27 flexible, horizontal sense of social and financial obligation. As members of a democracy increasingly defined by intangible and mutually entangled expressions of ownership, American citizens were simultaneously urged to feel as never before an enlarged sense of responsibility toward all members of the community.
28 Continuing a few passages later, he asserts: “Only your mystic, your dreamer, or your insolvent tramp or loafer, can afford so sympathetic an occupation, an occupation which will change the usual standards of human values in the twinkling of an eye, giving to foolishness a place ahead of power, and laying low in a minute the distinctions which it takes a hard-working conventional man a lifetime to 46 ● Pastoral, Pragmatism, American Poetry build up” (OCB, 851). The tramp emerges here as the protopragmatist, the individual capable of revealing the elusive, transitory nature of “value” and in the process enabling the creation of a “new centre and a new perspective” upon human existence.
77 Dream Songs by John Berryman