Dream Song 125: Bards freezing, naked, up to the neck in water

Bards freezing, naked, up to the neck in water,
wholly in dark, time limited, different from
initiations now:
the class in writing, clothed & dry & light,
unlimited time, till Poetry takes some,
nobody reads them though,

no trumpets, no solemn instauration, no change;
no commissions, ladies high in soulful praise
(pal) none,
costumes as usual, turtleneck sweaters, loafers,
in & among the busy Many who brays
art is if anything fun.

I say the subject was given as of old,
prescribed the technical treatment, tests really tests
were set by the masters & graded.
I say the paralyzed fear lest one’s not one
is back with us forever, worsts & bests
spring for the public, faded.

Analysis, meaning and summary of John Berryman's poem Dream Song 125: Bards freezing, naked, up to the neck in water

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