Saturday, March 6, 2010

Sonnet 23 - J. Berryman

John Berryman  (1914- 1972)....  His poetry is brilliant wild and he himself a big - and tragic figure in American poetry: another of the "founders" of the Confessional style that committed suicide.  I was in college when that happened, vaguely remember reading about it, but didn't know his poetry well-enough then to be affected.  This one is one of my all-time favorites, a declaration of love that IS "..fresh as  a bubble breaks..".  Goes well with a big Burgundy, an aged Gouda perhaps, and someone who expected the usual.....  Some of Berryman's poems are dazzling but require effort, as your brain will have to make new synapses for his imagery.  (Don't start with the "Dream Songs"!)  You must read this one aloud and with passion!

Sonnet 23

They may suppose, because I would not cloy your ear - 
If ever these songs by other ears are heard - 
With ‘love’ and ‘love', I loved you not, but blurred 
Lust with strange images, warm, not quite sincere,

To switch a bedroom black.  O mutineer 
With me against these empty captains!  Gird
Your scorn against above all this word
Pompous and vague on the stump of his career.

Also I fox ‘heart’, striking a modern breast
Hollow as a drum, and ‘beauty’ I taboo;
I want a verse fresh as a bubble breaks,
As little false... Blood of my sweet unrest
Runs all the same - I am in love with you -
Trapped in my rib-cage something throes and aches!

John Berryman - American

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