In slack times visit I the violent dead
and pick their awful brains. Most seem to feel
nothing is secret more
to my disdain I find, when we who fled
cherish the knowings of both worlds, conceal
more, beat on the floor,

where Bhain is stagnant, dear of Henry’s friends,
yellow with cancer, paper-thin, & bent
even in the hospital bed
racked with high hope, on whom death lay hands
in weeks, or Yeats in the London spring half-spent,
only the grand gift in his head

going for him, a seated ruin of a man
courteous to a junior, like one of the boarders,
or Dylan, with more to say
now there’s no hurry, and we’re all a clan.
You’d think off here one would be free from orders.
I didn’t hear a single word. I obeyed.

Analysis, meaning and summary of John Berryman's poem Dream Song 88: Op. posth. no. 11

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