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February 22nd, 2017 - we have 234 poets, 8,025 poems and 321,221 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
10602 Dream Song 4: Filling her compact & delicious body Comments and analysis of Dream Song 4: Filling her compact & delicious body by John Berryman 5 Comments
9080 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
8118 Winter Landscape Comments and analysis of Winter Landscape by John Berryman 19 Comments
7954 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 51 Comments
6795 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 36 Comments
6636 Dream Song 34: My mother has your shotgun. One man, wide
6462 Dream Song 16: Henry's pelt was put on sundry walls
6283 Dream Song 2: Big Buttons, Cornets: the advance Comments and analysis of Dream Song 2: Big Buttons, Cornets: the advance by John Berryman 1 Comment
6195 Dream Song 28: Snow Line
6126 The Traveller
6085 Sonnet 96
5940 Dream Song 40: I'm scared a lonely. Never see my son
5801 Dream Song 8: The weather was fine. They took away his teeth Comments and analysis of Dream Song 8: The weather was fine. They took away his teeth by John Berryman 1 Comment
5772 Dream Song 39: Goodbye, sir, & fare well. You're in the clear
5765 Dream Song 63: Bats have no bankers and they do not drink
5440 Dream Song 172: Your face broods Comments and analysis of Dream Song 172: Your face broods by John Berryman 2 Comments
5040 Dream Song 324: An Elegy for W.C.W., the lovely man
4959 Dream Song 36: The high ones die, die. They die
4884 Dream Song 74: Henry hates the world. What the world to Henry
4701 Dream Song 35: MLA
4586 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 59 Comments
4375 Dream Song 26: The glories of the world struck me
4369 Dream Song 69: Love her he doesn't but the thought he puts
4363 Dream Song 112: My framework is broken, I am coming to an end
4330 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 2 Comments
4245 Dream Song 46: I am, outside. Incredible
4232 Dream Song 135: I heard said 'Cats that walk by their wild lone'
4151 Dream Song 224: Lonely in his great age
4092 Dream Song 53: He lay in the middle of the world, and twicht
4082 Dream Song 7: 'The Prisoner of Shark Island' with Paul Muni
4036 Dream Song 52: Silent Song Comments and analysis of Dream Song 52: Silent Song by John Berryman 14 Comments
4015 Dream Song 23: The Lay of Ike Comments and analysis of Dream Song 23: The Lay of Ike by John Berryman 10 Comments
4003 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
3988 Dream Song 19: Here, whence
3971 Dream Song 6: A Capital at Wells Comments and analysis of Dream Song 6: A Capital at Wells by John Berryman 1 Comment
3968 Dream Song 105: As a kid I believed in democracy: I
3959 Dream Song 9: Deprived of his enemy, shrugged to a standstill Comments and analysis of Dream Song 9: Deprived of his enemy, shrugged to a standstill by John Berryman 1 Comment
3947 Dream Song 49: Blind Comments and analysis of Dream Song 49: Blind by John Berryman 5 Comments
3918 Dream Song 48: He yelled at me in Greek
3917 Dream Song 58: Industrious, affable, having brain on fire
3891 The Ball Poem Comments and analysis of The Ball Poem by John Berryman 337 Comments
3891 The Ball Poem
3850 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 10 Comments
3843 Dream Song 118: He wondered: Do I love? all this applause
3835 Dream Song 56: Hell is empty. O that has come to pass Comments and analysis of Dream Song 56: Hell is empty. O that has come to pass by John Berryman 1 Comment
3777 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 5 Comments
3767 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 2 Comments
3755 Dream Song 132: A Small Dream
3704 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 4 Comments
3587 Dream Song 43: 'Oyez, oyez!' The Man Who Did Not Deliver Comments and analysis of Dream Song 43: 'Oyez, oyez!' The Man Who Did Not Deliver by John Berryman 2 Comments
3573 Dream Song 15: Let us suppose, valleys & such ago
3551 Dream Song 127: Again, his friend's death made the man sit still
3523 Dream Song 50: In a motion of night they massed nearer my post
3521 Dream Song 12: Sabbath
3500 Dream Song 61: Full moon. Our Narragansett gales subside
3428 Dream Song 27: The greens of the Ganges delta foliate
3395 Dream Song 17: Muttered Henry:—Lord of matter, thus
3338 Dream Song 71: Spellbound held subtle Henry all his four
3315 Dream Song 54: 'NO VISITORS' I thumb the roller to
3278 Dream Song 89: Op. posth. no. 12
3273 Dream Song 82: Op. posth. no. 5 Comments and analysis of Dream Song 82: Op. posth. no. 5 by John Berryman 2 Comments
3269 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 2 Comments
3193 Dream Song 22: Of 1826
3167 Dream Song 176: All that hair flashing over
3144 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 2 Comments
3137 Dream Song 42: O journeyer, deaf in the mould, insane
3014 Dream Song 64: Supreme my holdings, greater yet my need
3001 Dream Song 104: Welcome, grinned Henry, welcome, fifty-one!
2943 Dream Song 59: Henry's Meditation in the Kremlin
2896 Dream Song 65: A freaking ankle crabbed his blissful trips
2869 Dream Song 68: I heard, could be, a Hey there from the wing
2814 Dream Song 111: I miss him. When I get back to camp
2737 Dream Song 66: 'All virtues enter into this world:')
2728 Dream Song 33: An apple arc'd toward Kleitos; whose great King Comments and analysis of Dream Song 33: An apple arc'd toward Kleitos; whose great King by John Berryman 6 Comments
2728 Dream Song 87: Op. posth. no. 10 Comments and analysis of Dream Song 87: Op. posth. no. 10 by John Berryman 7 Comments
2694 Dream Song 32: And where, friend Quo, lay you hiding
2665 Dream Song 106: 28 July Comments and analysis of Dream Song 106: 28 July by John Berryman 7 Comments
2653 Dream Song 98: I met a junior--not so junior--and
2650 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 2 Comments
2638 Dream Song 31: Henry Hankovitch, con guĂ­tar
2632 Dream Song 79: Op. posth. no. 2 Comments and analysis of Dream Song 79: Op. posth. no. 2 by John Berryman 1 Comment
2618 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
2599 Dream Song 72: The Elder Presences
2554 Dream Song 92: Room 231: the fourth week Comments and analysis of Dream Song 92: Room 231: the fourth week by John Berryman 6 Comments
2537 Dream Song 109: She mentioned 'worthless' & he took it in
2518 Dream Song 37: Three around the Old Gentleman
2499 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
2446 Dream Song 114: Henry in trouble whirped out lonely whines
2420 Dream Song 121: Grief is fatiguing. He is out of it
2417 Dream Song 96: Under the table, no. That last was stunning Comments and analysis of Dream Song 96: Under the table, no. That last was stunning by John Berryman 1 Comment
2402 Dream Song 123: Daples my floor the eastern sun, my house faces north Comments and analysis of Dream Song 123: Daples my floor the eastern sun, my house faces north by John Berryman 1 Comment
2394 Dream Song 83: Op. posth. no. 6
2373 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 4 Comments
2344 Dream Song 57: In a state of chortle sin--once he reflected
2331 Dream Song 97: Henry of Donnybrook bred like a pig Comments and analysis of Dream Song 97: Henry of Donnybrook bred like a pig by John Berryman 1 Comment
2318 Dream Song 107: Three 'coons come at his garbage. He be cross
2315 Dream Song 1: Huffy Henry hid the day Comments and analysis of Dream Song 1: Huffy Henry hid the day by John Berryman 3 Comments
2285 Dream Song 80: Op. posth. no. 3 Comments and analysis of Dream Song 80: Op. posth. no. 3 by John Berryman 1 Comment
2276 Dream Song 88: Op. posth. no. 11 Comments and analysis of Dream Song 88: Op. posth. no. 11 by John Berryman 4 Comments
2250 Dream Song 95: The surly cop looked out at me in sleep
2241 Dream Song 119: Fresh-shaven, past months & a picture in New York
2212 Dream Song 85: Op. posth. no. 8 Comments and analysis of Dream Song 85: Op. posth. no. 8 by John Berryman 5 Comments
2167 Dream Song 129: Thin as a sheet his mother came to him
2121 Dream Song 116: Through the forest, followed, Henry made his silky way Comments and analysis of Dream Song 116: Through the forest, followed, Henry     made his silky way by John Berryman 2 Comments
2082 Dream Song 81: Op. posth. no. 4 Comments and analysis of Dream Song 81: Op. posth. no. 4 by John Berryman 2 Comments
2074 Dream Song 84: Op. posth. no. 7
2056 Dream Song 94: Ill lay he long, upon this last return
1979 Dream Song 75: Turning it over, considering
1921 Dream Song 86: Op. posth. no. 9 Comments and analysis of Dream Song 86: Op. posth. no. 9 by John Berryman 1 Comment
1756 Dream Song 14: Life, friends, is boring Comments and analysis of Dream Song 14: Life, friends, is boring by John Berryman 1 Comment
1595 Dream Song 108: Sixteen below. Our care like stranded hulls
1425 Dream Song 13: God bless Henry
1193 Dream Song 51: Our wounds to time, from all the other times
1135 Dream Song 5: Henry sats in de bar & was odd Comments and analysis of Dream Song 5: Henry sats in de bar & was odd by John Berryman 10 Comments
1097 Dream Song 67: I don't operate often. When I do Comments and analysis of Dream Song 67: I don't operate often. When I do by John Berryman 8 Comments
1067 Dream Song 24: Oh servant Henry lectured till Comments and analysis of Dream Song 24: Oh servant Henry lectured till by John Berryman 23 Comments
1058 Dream Song 124: Behold I bring you tidings of great joy
1050 Dream Song 76: Henry's Confession Comments and analysis of Dream Song 76: Henry's Confession by John Berryman 1 Comment
962 Dream Song 93: General Fatigue stalked in, & a Major-General
949 Dream Song 73: Karensui, Ryoan-ji Comments and analysis of Dream Song 73: Karensui, Ryoan-ji by John Berryman 1 Comment
859 Dream Song 122: He published his girl's bottom in staid pages
648 Sonnet 117 - All we were going strong Comments and analysis of Sonnet 117 - All we were going strong by John Berryman 5 Comments
585 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 10 Comments
563 Dream Song 117: Disturbed, when Henry's love returned with a hubby
512 Dream Song 120: Foes I sniff, when I have less to shout
509 Dream Song 265: I don't know one damned butterfly from another Comments and analysis of Dream Song 265: I don't know one damned butterfly from another by John Berryman 4 Comments
496 Dream Song 90: Op. posth. no. 13
426 Dream Song 110: It was the blue & plain ones. I forget all that
406 Dream Song 100: How this woman came by the courage
386 Dream Song 11: His mother goes. The mother comes & goes.
351 Dream Song 18: A Strut for Roethke
341 Dream Song 126: A Thurn Comments and analysis of Dream Song 126: A Thurn by John Berryman 6 Comments
336 Sonnet 115 - All we were going strong last night this time
329 Dream Song 113: or Amy Vladeck or Riva Freifeld
306 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 12 Comments
303 Dream Song 60: Afters eight years, be less dan eight percent
300 Dream Song 130: When I saw my friend covered with blood, I thought
287 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 18 Comments
270 Dream Song 78: Op. posth. no. 1 Comments and analysis of Dream Song 78: Op. posth. no. 1 by John Berryman 1 Comment
261 Dream Song 99: Temples
260 Sonnet 104 - A spot of poontang on a five-foot piece Comments and analysis of Sonnet 104 - A spot of poontang on a five-foot piece by John Berryman 1 Comment
209 Dream Song 101: A shallow lake, with many waterbirds Comments and analysis of Dream Song 101: A shallow lake, with many waterbirds by John Berryman 1 Comment
203 Dream Song 30: Collating bones: I would have liked to do
169 Dream Song 171: Go, ill-sped book, and whisper to her or
127 Dream Song 41: If we sang in the wood (and Death is a German expert)
118 Dream Song 20: The Secret of the Wisdom
95 Dream Song 131: Come touch me baby in his waking dream
91 Dream Song 91: Op. posth. no. 14 Comments and analysis of Dream Song 91: Op. posth. no. 14 by John Berryman 10 Comments
86 Dream Song 38: The Russian grin bellows his condolence
63 Dream Song 77: Seedy Henry rose up shy
33 The Curse Comments and analysis of The Curse by John Berryman 95 Comments


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