Poets | Bookstore | Poem of the Day | Top 40 | Search | Comments | Privacy
December 17th, 2014 - we have 234 poets, 8,025 poems and 279,673 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
12544 The Curse Comments and analysis of The Curse by John Berryman 69 Comments
9381 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
7882 Sonnet 117 - All we were going strong
7557 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
7119 Winter Landscape Comments and analysis of Winter Landscape by John Berryman 1 Comment
7100 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
6078 Dream Song 13: God bless Henry
5913 Dream Song 77: Seedy Henry rose up shy
5663 Dream Song 34: My mother has your shotgun. One man, wide
5484 Dream Song 2: Big Buttons, Cornets: the advance
5443 The Traveller
5368 Dream Song 28: Snow Line
5144 Dream Song 11: His mother goes. The mother comes & goes.
5092 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
4933 Dream Song 8: The weather was fine. They took away his teeth
4815 Sonnet 96
4789 Dream Song 40: I'm scared a lonely. Never see my son
4712 Dream Song 16: Henry's pelt was put on sundry walls
4671 Dream Song 39: Goodbye, sir, & fare well. You're in the clear
4591 Dream Song 20: The Secret of the Wisdom
4547 Dream Song 172: Your face broods Comments and analysis of Dream Song 172: Your face broods by John Berryman 2 Comments
4505 Sonnet 104 - A spot of poontang on a five-foot piece
4453 Dream Song 51: Our wounds to time, from all the other times
4303 Dream Song 36: The high ones die, die. They die
4264 Sonnet 115 - All we were going strong last night this time
4153 Dream Song 63: Bats have no bankers and they do not drink
4098 Dream Song 324: An Elegy for W.C.W., the lovely man
4004 Dream Song 74: Henry hates the world. What the world to Henry
3960 Dream Song 265: I don't know one damned butterfly from another
3813 Dream Song 131: Come touch me baby in his waking dream
3807 Dream Song 35: MLA
3641 Dream Song 112: My framework is broken, I am coming to an end
3636 Dream Song 69: Love her he doesn't but the thought he puts
3474 Dream Song 67: I don't operate often. When I do
3464 Dream Song 46: I am, outside. Incredible
3448 Dream Song 26: The glories of the world struck me
3402 Dream Song 7: 'The Prisoner of Shark Island' with Paul Muni
3371 Dream Song 19: Here, whence
3353 Dream Song 53: He lay in the middle of the world, and twicht
3337 Dream Song 38: The Russian grin bellows his condolence
3309 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
3309 Dream Song 6: A Capital at Wells
3298 Dream Song 105: As a kid I believed in democracy: I
3264 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
3259 Dream Song 18: A Strut for Roethke
3236 Dream Song 48: He yelled at me in Greek
3211 Dream Song 49: Blind Comments and analysis of Dream Song 49: Blind by John Berryman 2 Comments
3198 Dream Song 23: The Lay of Ike Comments and analysis of Dream Song 23: The Lay of Ike by John Berryman 1 Comment
3166 Dream Song 132: A Small Dream
3148 Dream Song 56: Hell is empty. O that has come to pass
3140 Dream Song 224: Lonely in his great age
3065 Dream Song 52: Silent Song Comments and analysis of Dream Song 52: Silent Song by John Berryman 1 Comment
3036 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
3029 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
3020 Dream Song 58: Industrious, affable, having brain on fire
3016 Dream Song 12: Sabbath
3006 Dream Song 127: Again, his friend's death made the man sit still
2943 Dream Song 100: How this woman came by the courage
2934 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
2888 Dream Song 43: 'Oyez, oyez!' The Man Who Did Not Deliver
2887 Dream Song 61: Full moon. Our Narragansett gales subside
2844 Dream Song 50: In a motion of night they massed nearer my post
2837 Dream Song 118: He wondered: Do I love? all this applause
2808 Dream Song 54: 'NO VISITORS' I thumb the roller to
2801 Dream Song 15: Let us suppose, valleys & such ago
2792 Dream Song 71: Spellbound held subtle Henry all his four
2756 Dream Song 82: Op. posth. no. 5 Comments and analysis of Dream Song 82: Op. posth. no. 5 by John Berryman 1 Comment
2743 Dream Song 78: Op. posth. no. 1
2705 Dream Song 9: Deprived of his enemy, shrugged to a standstill
2700 Dream Song 171: Go, ill-sped book, and whisper to her or
2692 Dream Song 89: Op. posth. no. 12
2681 Dream Song 30: Collating bones: I would have liked to do
2677 Dream Song 101: A shallow lake, with many waterbirds
2643 Dream Song 130: When I saw my friend covered with blood, I thought
2642 Dream Song 27: The greens of the Ganges delta foliate
2617 Dream Song 104: Welcome, grinned Henry, welcome, fifty-one!
2602 Dream Song 176: All that hair flashing over
2578 Dream Song 17: Muttered Henry:—Lord of matter, thus
2571 Dream Song 41: If we sang in the wood (and Death is a German expert)
2531 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
2493 Dream Song 64: Supreme my holdings, greater yet my need
2484 Dream Song 42: O journeyer, deaf in the mould, insane
2433 Dream Song 99: Temples
2338 Dream Song 60: Afters eight years, be less dan eight percent
2334 Dream Song 59: Henry's Meditation in the Kremlin
2306 Dream Song 111: I miss him. When I get back to camp
2297 Dream Song 65: A freaking ankle crabbed his blissful trips
2278 Dream Song 87: Op. posth. no. 10
2272 Dream Song 66: 'All virtues enter into this world:')
2239 Dream Song 68: I heard, could be, a Hey there from the wing
2171 Dream Song 98: I met a junior--not so junior--and
2159 Dream Song 32: And where, friend Quo, lay you hiding
2158 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
2113 Dream Song 106: 28 July Comments and analysis of Dream Song 106: 28 July by John Berryman 1 Comment
2112 Dream Song 91: Op. posth. no. 14 Comments and analysis of Dream Song 91: Op. posth. no. 14 by John Berryman 3 Comments
2109 Dream Song 33: An apple arc'd toward Kleitos; whose great King
2103 Dream Song 90: Op. posth. no. 13
2097 Dream Song 135: I heard said 'Cats that walk by their wild lone'
2063 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
2053 Dream Song 124: Behold I bring you tidings of great joy
2037 Dream Song 79: Op. posth. no. 2
2027 Dream Song 31: Henry Hankovitch, con guĂ­tar
2025 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
2009 Dream Song 37: Three around the Old Gentleman
1990 Dream Song 72: The Elder Presences
1981 Dream Song 92: Room 231: the fourth week
1969 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
1940 Dream Song 109: She mentioned 'worthless' & he took it in
1928 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
1926 Dream Song 121: Grief is fatiguing. He is out of it
1884 Dream Song 107: Three 'coons come at his garbage. He be cross
1866 Dream Song 57: In a state of chortle sin--once he reflected
1832 Dream Song 126: A Thurn Comments and analysis of Dream Song 126: A Thurn by John Berryman 2 Comments
1820 Dream Song 97: Henry of Donnybrook bred like a pig
1816 Dream Song 119: Fresh-shaven, past months & a picture in New York
1796 Dream Song 114: Henry in trouble whirped out lonely whines
1776 Dream Song 96: Under the table, no. That last was stunning
1755 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
1751 Dream Song 123: Daples my floor the eastern sun, my house faces north
1705 Dream Song 83: Op. posth. no. 6
1703 Dream Song 95: The surly cop looked out at me in sleep
1688 Dream Song 80: Op. posth. no. 3
1675 Dream Song 129: Thin as a sheet his mother came to him
1672 Dream Song 116: Through the forest, followed, Henry made his silky way
1653 Dream Song 94: Ill lay he long, upon this last return
1644 Dream Song 88: Op. posth. no. 11 Comments and analysis of Dream Song 88: Op. posth. no. 11 by John Berryman 1 Comment
1604 Dream Song 84: Op. posth. no. 7
1591 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
1539 Dream Song 85: Op. posth. no. 8 Comments and analysis of Dream Song 85: Op. posth. no. 8 by John Berryman 1 Comment
1491 Dream Song 81: Op. posth. no. 4
1482 Dream Song 86: Op. posth. no. 9
1469 Dream Song 22: Of 1826
1435 The Ball Poem Comments and analysis of The Ball Poem by John Berryman 306 Comments
1435 The Ball Poem
1148 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
861 Dream Song 1: Huffy Henry hid the day
723 Dream Song 5: Henry sats in de bar & was odd
672 Dream Song 14: Life, friends, is boring
386 Dream Song 75: Turning it over, considering
356 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
325 Dream Song 73: Karensui, Ryoan-ji
284 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
277 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
274 Dream Song 93: General Fatigue stalked in, & a Major-General
242 Dream Song 113: or Amy Vladeck or Riva Freifeld
202 Dream Song 108: Sixteen below. Our care like stranded hulls
181 Dream Song 122: He published his girl's bottom in staid pages
78 Dream Song 76: Henry's Confession Comments and analysis of Dream Song 76: Henry's Confession by John Berryman 1 Comment
45 Dream Song 120: Foes I sniff, when I have less to shout
10 Dream Song 117: Disturbed, when Henry's love returned with a hubby
1 Dream Song 110: It was the blue & plain ones. I forget all that


Books by John Berryman
Click here for books by John Berryman.
Berryman Info


Information
Copyright © 2000-2012 Gunnar Bengtsson. All Rights Reserved. Links | Bookstore