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November 26th, 2014 - we have 234 poets, 8,025 poems and 279,625 comments.
Biography of John Berryman

John Berryman

John Berryman (1914 - 1972)

John Berryman, famous for The Dream Songs, is a poet who is very non-traditional in his form. He "takes liberties with syntax and style". The Dream Songs involves a syntax which Berryman partially adopted from Shakespeare who was a big influence in his work. Some other major influences in his life were Robert Lowell, Mark Van Doren, and Yeats. In The Dream Songs, Berryman speaks about his own life through a man named Henry. Henry is a middle-aged American who must deal with paternal suicide, drunkenness, and other problems that Berryman himself experienced. He speaks to an unnamed friend about his issues, and his friend sometimes offers advice. There are almost 400 Dream Songs which were originally published in 77 Dream Songs and His Toy, His Dream, His Rest. When they became a big hit, they were published together in The Dream Songs.

John Allyn Smith was born in MacAlester, Oklahoma on Oct. 25, 1914. He lived on the family farm and later moved to Florida in 1926. That same year his father, depressed over business issues and marriage trouble, committed suicide right outside his son's window. This event wounded Berryman for the rest of his life. When the mother married a man named John Berryman, she changed her son's last name to Berryman. Berryman was not quickly accepted into South Kent School in Florida and was constantly teased. One day, after he had just gotten beat up, he attempted to commit suicide by throwing himself onto train tracks as a train was approaching. Boys from his school quickly pulled him off the tracks, and he escaped unharmed. Even though he was not socially adept, he excelled in academics. He became the first boy in South Kent to graduate one year early. Berryman got his undergraduate degree from Columbia College in 1936 where he published poems in their literary magazine. He then attended Cambridge University on fellowship. He taught at Wayne State University, Harvard, Princeton, University of Iowa, and University of Minnesota. He would remain at Minnesota until his death. Berryman married three times. His wives were Eileen Simpson (1942), Ann Levine (1956), and Kathleen Donohue (1960). Berryman died on Jan 7, 1972 when he threw himself off a bridge in Minneapolis onto some frozen rocks in the Mississippi River leaving behind his wife, two young daughters, and his son.

Berryman often wrote about how he felt about his father's death in his poetry. Berryman was also dependent on alcohol for thirty years and was treated several times, drifting in and out of rehabilitation and psychoanalysis. His addiction was another issue that had a large impact in his poetry. Berryman's distinctive way of telling about his life through poetry was loved by many. He won eleven awards: Oldham Shakespeare Prize, Poetry Society of America's Shelley Memorial award (1948), American Academy award for poetry (1950), National Institute of Arts and Letters Award (1950), the Levinson Prize (1950), the Guggenheim Fellowship (1952, 1966), Academy of American Poets, The Pulitzer Prize(1964), National Endowment for the Arts award (1967), National Book Award (1969), and the Bollingen Award (1969).


Biography by: Michelle Luo - Echoes: great poets inspiring young writers


150 Poems written by John Berryman

The poems are by default sorted according to volume, but you can also choose to sort them alphabetically or by page views.

Volume | Alphabetically | [Page Views] | Comments | First Lines


Page ViewsPoemComments
12468 The Curse Comments and analysis of The Curse by John Berryman 69 Comments
9353 Dream Song 4: Filling her compact & delicious body Comments and analysis of Dream Song 4: Filling her compact & delicious body by John Berryman 2 Comments
7847 Sonnet 117 - All we were going strong
7511 Dream Song 3: A Stimulant for an Old Beast Comments and analysis of Dream Song 3: A Stimulant for an Old Beast by John Berryman 4 Comments
7086 Winter Landscape Comments and analysis of Winter Landscape by John Berryman 1 Comment
7080 Dream Song 29: There sat down, once, a thing Comments and analysis of Dream Song 29: There sat down, once, a thing by John Berryman 48 Comments
6048 Dream Song 13: God bless Henry
5877 Dream Song 77: Seedy Henry rose up shy
5629 Dream Song 34: My mother has your shotgun. One man, wide
5472 Dream Song 2: Big Buttons, Cornets: the advance
5424 The Traveller
5350 Dream Song 28: Snow Line
5130 Dream Song 11: His mother goes. The mother comes & goes.
5037 Dream Song 55: Peter's not friendly. He gives me sideways looks Comments and analysis of Dream Song 55: Peter's not friendly. He gives me sideways looks by John Berryman 30 Comments
4906 Dream Song 8: The weather was fine. They took away his teeth
4787 Sonnet 96
4751 Dream Song 40: I'm scared a lonely. Never see my son
4665 Dream Song 16: Henry's pelt was put on sundry walls
4653 Dream Song 39: Goodbye, sir, & fare well. You're in the clear
4570 Dream Song 20: The Secret of the Wisdom
4520 Dream Song 172: Your face broods Comments and analysis of Dream Song 172: Your face broods by John Berryman 2 Comments
4459 Sonnet 104 - A spot of poontang on a five-foot piece
4429 Dream Song 51: Our wounds to time, from all the other times
4287 Dream Song 36: The high ones die, die. They die
4235 Sonnet 115 - All we were going strong last night this time
4110 Dream Song 63: Bats have no bankers and they do not drink
4084 Dream Song 324: An Elegy for W.C.W., the lovely man
3979 Dream Song 74: Henry hates the world. What the world to Henry
3949 Dream Song 265: I don't know one damned butterfly from another
3801 Dream Song 131: Come touch me baby in his waking dream
3781 Dream Song 35: MLA
3616 Dream Song 112: My framework is broken, I am coming to an end
3609 Dream Song 69: Love her he doesn't but the thought he puts
3455 Dream Song 67: I don't operate often. When I do
3443 Dream Song 46: I am, outside. Incredible
3436 Dream Song 26: The glories of the world struck me
3376 Dream Song 7: 'The Prisoner of Shark Island' with Paul Muni
3362 Dream Song 19: Here, whence
3331 Dream Song 53: He lay in the middle of the world, and twicht
3329 Dream Song 38: The Russian grin bellows his condolence
3286 Dream Song 10: There were strange gatherings. A vote would come Comments and analysis of Dream Song 10: There were strange gatherings. A vote would come by John Berryman 1 Comment
3286 Dream Song 6: A Capital at Wells
3271 Dream Song 105: As a kid I believed in democracy: I
3252 Dream Song 128: A hemorrhage of his left ear of Good Friday Comments and analysis of Dream Song 128: A hemorrhage of his left ear of Good Friday by John Berryman 6 Comments
3235 Dream Song 18: A Strut for Roethke
3219 Dream Song 48: He yelled at me in Greek
3201 Dream Song 49: Blind Comments and analysis of Dream Song 49: Blind by John Berryman 2 Comments
3186 Dream Song 23: The Lay of Ike Comments and analysis of Dream Song 23: The Lay of Ike by John Berryman 1 Comment
3159 Dream Song 132: A Small Dream
3139 Dream Song 56: Hell is empty. O that has come to pass
3113 Dream Song 224: Lonely in his great age
3076 Dream Song 117: Disturbed, when Henry's love returned with a hubby
3045 Dream Song 52: Silent Song Comments and analysis of Dream Song 52: Silent Song by John Berryman 1 Comment
3018 Dream Song 44: Tell it to the forest fire, tell it to the moon Comments and analysis of Dream Song 44: Tell it to the forest fire, tell it to the moon by John Berryman 1 Comment
3015 Dream Song 70: Disengaged, bloody, Henry rose from the shell Comments and analysis of Dream Song 70: Disengaged, bloody, Henry rose from the shell by John Berryman 1 Comment
3008 Dream Song 12: Sabbath
3004 Dream Song 58: Industrious, affable, having brain on fire
2999 Dream Song 127: Again, his friend's death made the man sit still
2929 Dream Song 100: How this woman came by the courage
2923 Dream Song 21: Some good people, daring & subtle voices Comments and analysis of Dream Song 21: Some good people, daring & subtle voices by John Berryman 1 Comment
2878 Dream Song 43: 'Oyez, oyez!' The Man Who Did Not Deliver
2875 Dream Song 61: Full moon. Our Narragansett gales subside
2827 Dream Song 50: In a motion of night they massed nearer my post
2807 Dream Song 118: He wondered: Do I love? all this applause
2798 Dream Song 54: 'NO VISITORS' I thumb the roller to
2786 Dream Song 15: Let us suppose, valleys & such ago
2776 Dream Song 71: Spellbound held subtle Henry all his four
2748 Dream Song 82: Op. posth. no. 5 Comments and analysis of Dream Song 82: Op. posth. no. 5 by John Berryman 1 Comment
2730 Dream Song 78: Op. posth. no. 1
2695 Dream Song 9: Deprived of his enemy, shrugged to a standstill
2682 Dream Song 89: Op. posth. no. 12
2672 Dream Song 171: Go, ill-sped book, and whisper to her or
2665 Dream Song 30: Collating bones: I would have liked to do
2660 Dream Song 101: A shallow lake, with many waterbirds
2630 Dream Song 130: When I saw my friend covered with blood, I thought
2623 Dream Song 27: The greens of the Ganges delta foliate
2613 Dream Song 104: Welcome, grinned Henry, welcome, fifty-one!
2591 Dream Song 176: All that hair flashing over
2567 Dream Song 17: Muttered Henry:—Lord of matter, thus
2562 Dream Song 41: If we sang in the wood (and Death is a German expert)
2520 Dream Song 62: That dark brown rabbit, lightness in his ears Comments and analysis of Dream Song 62: That dark brown rabbit, lightness in his ears by John Berryman 1 Comment
2488 Dream Song 64: Supreme my holdings, greater yet my need
2475 Dream Song 42: O journeyer, deaf in the mould, insane
2429 Dream Song 99: Temples
2323 Dream Song 60: Afters eight years, be less dan eight percent
2318 Dream Song 59: Henry's Meditation in the Kremlin
2297 Dream Song 111: I miss him. When I get back to camp
2285 Dream Song 65: A freaking ankle crabbed his blissful trips
2271 Dream Song 87: Op. posth. no. 10
2260 Dream Song 66: 'All virtues enter into this world:')
2224 Dream Song 68: I heard, could be, a Hey there from the wing
2162 Dream Song 98: I met a junior--not so junior--and
2154 Dream Song 32: And where, friend Quo, lay you hiding
2141 Dream Song 103: I consider a song will be as humming-bird Comments and analysis of Dream Song 103: I consider a song will be as humming-bird by John Berryman 2 Comments
2102 Dream Song 91: Op. posth. no. 14 Comments and analysis of Dream Song 91: Op. posth. no. 14 by John Berryman 3 Comments
2101 Dream Song 106: 28 July Comments and analysis of Dream Song 106: 28 July by John Berryman 1 Comment
2090 Dream Song 90: Op. posth. no. 13
2089 Dream Song 33: An apple arc'd toward Kleitos; whose great King
2084 Dream Song 135: I heard said 'Cats that walk by their wild lone'
2047 Dream Song 125: Bards freezing, naked, up to the neck in water Comments and analysis of Dream Song 125: Bards freezing, naked, up to the neck in water by John Berryman 1 Comment
2033 Dream Song 124: Behold I bring you tidings of great joy
2022 Dream Song 79: Op. posth. no. 2
2018 Dream Song 31: Henry Hankovitch, con guĂ­tar
2016 Dream Song 102: The sunburnt terraces which swans make home Comments and analysis of Dream Song 102: The sunburnt terraces which swans make home by John Berryman 19 Comments
1998 Dream Song 37: Three around the Old Gentleman
1984 Dream Song 72: The Elder Presences
1966 Dream Song 92: Room 231: the fourth week
1962 Dream Song 133: As he grew famous—ah, but what is fame? Comments and analysis of Dream Song 133: As he grew famous—ah, but what is fame? by John Berryman 1 Comment
1936 Dream Song 109: She mentioned 'worthless' & he took it in
1922 Dream Song 121: Grief is fatiguing. He is out of it
1913 Dream Song 134: Sick at 6 & sick again at 9 Comments and analysis of Dream Song 134: Sick at 6 & sick again at 9 by John Berryman 2 Comments
1870 Dream Song 107: Three 'coons come at his garbage. He be cross
1854 Dream Song 57: In a state of chortle sin--once he reflected
1825 Dream Song 126: A Thurn Comments and analysis of Dream Song 126: A Thurn by John Berryman 2 Comments
1810 Dream Song 97: Henry of Donnybrook bred like a pig
1809 Dream Song 119: Fresh-shaven, past months & a picture in New York
1787 Dream Song 114: Henry in trouble whirped out lonely whines
1766 Dream Song 96: Under the table, no. That last was stunning
1748 Dream Song 115: Her properties, like her of course & frisky & new Comments and analysis of Dream Song 115: Her properties, like her of course & frisky & new by John Berryman 1 Comment
1741 Dream Song 123: Daples my floor the eastern sun, my house faces north
1707 Dream Song 110: It was the blue & plain ones. I forget all that
1691 Dream Song 95: The surly cop looked out at me in sleep
1688 Dream Song 83: Op. posth. no. 6
1680 Dream Song 80: Op. posth. no. 3
1667 Dream Song 116: Through the forest, followed, Henry made his silky way
1662 Dream Song 129: Thin as a sheet his mother came to him
1646 Dream Song 94: Ill lay he long, upon this last return
1637 Dream Song 88: Op. posth. no. 11 Comments and analysis of Dream Song 88: Op. posth. no. 11 by John Berryman 1 Comment
1596 Dream Song 84: Op. posth. no. 7
1586 Dream Song 136: While his wife earned the living, Rabbi Henry Comments and analysis of Dream Song 136: While his wife earned the living, Rabbi Henry by John Berryman 2 Comments
1525 Dream Song 85: Op. posth. no. 8 Comments and analysis of Dream Song 85: Op. posth. no. 8 by John Berryman 1 Comment
1479 Dream Song 81: Op. posth. no. 4
1476 Dream Song 86: Op. posth. no. 9
1406 Dream Song 22: Of 1826
1388 The Ball Poem Comments and analysis of The Ball Poem by John Berryman 306 Comments
1388 The Ball Poem
1060 Dream Song 45: He stared at ruin. Ruin stared straight back Comments and analysis of Dream Song 45: He stared at ruin. Ruin stared straight back by John Berryman 48 Comments
836 Dream Song 1: Huffy Henry hid the day
688 Dream Song 5: Henry sats in de bar & was odd
647 Dream Song 14: Life, friends, is boring
371 Dream Song 75: Turning it over, considering
339 Dream Song 25: Henry, edged, decidedly, made up stories Comments and analysis of Dream Song 25: Henry, edged, decidedly, made up stories by John Berryman 1 Comment
309 Dream Song 73: Karensui, Ryoan-ji
272 Dream Song 24: Oh servant Henry lectured till Comments and analysis of Dream Song 24: Oh servant Henry lectured till by John Berryman 16 Comments
263 Dream Song 93: General Fatigue stalked in, & a Major-General
262 Dream Song 47: April Fool's Day, or, St Mary of Egypt Comments and analysis of Dream Song 47: April Fool's Day, or, St Mary of Egypt by John Berryman 3 Comments
235 Dream Song 113: or Amy Vladeck or Riva Freifeld
197 Dream Song 108: Sixteen below. Our care like stranded hulls
170 Dream Song 122: He published his girl's bottom in staid pages
49 Dream Song 76: Henry's Confession Comments and analysis of Dream Song 76: Henry's Confession by John Berryman 1 Comment
38 Dream Song 120: Foes I sniff, when I have less to shout


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