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Analysis and comments on The Ball Poem by John Berryman

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Comment 13 of 313, added on November 21st, 2011 at 8:15 PM.
ugg boots

Good assignment! Thanks for making my morning a little bit better with this
great article!!

uggs from United States
Comment 12 of 313, added on August 5th, 2011 at 11:14 PM.

I think that this poem is awesome.This is very wonderful poem that express
the lost of childhood.
And this poem learnt us the idea of how to came out from the feelings of

SITANSHU from India
Comment 11 of 313, added on February 8th, 2011 at 7:23 PM.


jimjim from Vietnam
Comment 10 of 313, added on January 22nd, 2010 at 7:13 AM.

I heard about John Berryman in a Clap Your Hands Say Yeah song called
"Mama, Won't You Keep Them Castles in the Air and Burning?" the song is
amazing and coincidently, so is the poet!

Nathan Quirk from United Kingdom
Comment 7 of 313, added on June 16th, 2009 at 3:20 PM.

This seems to be a type of “initiation” poem, exploring what it feels like
both to possess something and to lose it. The exaggerated language the
poet uses to imagine the boy’s reaction to his loss ("an ultimate shaking
grief," "staring down/All his young days," and "the epistemology of loss")
works to suggest the boy’s innocence relative to the grown man’s knowledge
of “deeper” losses. The poet’s hyperbolic description of the boy’s
response isn’t distracting or out of place because it is clear from the
beginning that the speaker is projecting his own nostalgic feelings onto
the boy he observes.
In a sense, this is quite a doom-and-gloom poem, foreshadowing the lousy
experiences the boy has coming to him: “People will take balls, / Balls
will be lost always, little boy.” Clearly, the poet is referring to losses
far more difficult to deal with that the boy will have. The direct address
to the boy is interesting because even as the speaker uses it, it is
unlikely he would ever say this to the boy in real life—i.e. “you think
that’s bad, little boy? Wait til your marriage fails.” No, this is more
about a simple moment observed clarifying a painful feeling for the
There is also hope that briefly visits the melancholic poem. The speaker
says the boy is learning “What every man must one day know / And most know
many days, how to stand up / And gradually light returns to the street.” I
like the careful word choice here—“most know many days,” because it leaves
room for those that don’t stand up at all, or who have days they can and
days they can’t.
I am intrigued by the lines, “Soon part of me will explore the deep and
dark / Floor of the harbour…I am everywhere.” I wonder if “I am
everywhere” refers to the losses the speaker has experienced, and that a
part of him is taken away with everything he loses—thus, the more he loses,
the more his self is fragmented, and though he learns to “stand up,” there
is part of him that still explores “the deep and dark / Floor of the
harbour,” hoping to recover what he has lost. I find this to be the most
beautiful idea of the poem, whether I have interpreted it loosely and
foolishly or not.

sarab from United States
Comment 6 of 313, added on May 21st, 2009 at 9:43 PM.

this is one hot delcicious story about little children. I love the part
where the kids father puts his sons balls in his mouth. MMMMMMMMMM. Wish I
could have a taste!

harry from Barbados
Comment 5 of 313, added on June 3rd, 2007 at 4:01 PM.

See how you laugh at the poem when you get a little older and begin to
understand what it's about. Age happens to everybody, and it is unfortunate
you are considered an AP student, in my opinion. As for your teacher, he or
she is the only "atrocious excuse" I see from your post and probably
belongs in a high school, among such delusional idiots as you and your
"gifted" fellow students.

Cswart from United States
Comment 4 of 313, added on May 10th, 2007 at 3:10 PM.

Oh my Lord this poem is awesome. I especially loved the part about balls. I
love balls. Espescially in my mouth. Suck on my chocolate salty balls

Billy Bob from Canada

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Information about The Ball Poem

Poet: John Berryman
Poem: The Ball Poem
Volume: Collected Poems 1937-1971
Added: Feb 20 2003
Viewed: 1954 times
Poem of the Day: Nov 23 2012

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