Cover image for The heart is strange : new selected poems
Title:
The heart is strange : new selected poems
Author:
Berryman, John, 1914-1972.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Poems. Selections.
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014.
Physical Description:
xxxv, 179 pages ; 24 cm
Summary:
"A lively sampling from the work of one of the most celebrated and daring poets of the twentieth century John Berryman was perhaps the most idiosyncratic American poet of the twentieth century. Best known for the painfully sad and raucously funny cycle of Dream Songs, he wrote passionately: of love and despair, of grief and laughter, of longing for a better world and coming to terms with this one. The Heart Is Strange, a new selection of his poems, along with reissues of Berryman's Sonnets, 77 Dream Songs, and the complete Dream Songs, marks the centenary of his birth. The Heart Is Strange includes a generous selection from across Berryman's varied career: from his earliest poems, which show him learning the craft, to his breakthrough masterpiece, "Homage to Mistress Bradstreet, " then to his mature verses, which find the poet looking back upon his lovers and youthful passions, and finally, to his late poems, in which he battles with sobriety and an increasingly religious sensibility. The defiant joy and wild genius of Berryman's work has been obscured by his struggles with mental illness and alcohol, his tempestuous relationships with women, and his suicide. This volume, which includes three previously uncollected poems and an insightful introduction by the editor Daniel Swift, celebrates the whole Berryman: tortured poet and teasing father, passionate lover and melancholy scholar. It is a perfect introduction to one of the finest bodies of work yet produced by an American poet"--

": A new selection of John Berryman's work, in honor of the poet's centenary"--
Language:
English
Added Author:
ISBN:
9780374221089
Format :
Book

Available:*

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Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Status
Central Library PS3503.E744 A6 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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Audubon Library PS3503.E744 A6 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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Summary

Summary

A lively sampling from the work of one of the most celebrated and daring poets of the twentieth century John Berryman was perhaps the most idiosyncratic American poet of the twentieth century. Best known for the painfully sad and raucously funny cycle of Dream Songs, he wrote passionately: of love and despair, of grief and laughter, of longing for a better world and coming to terms with this one. The Heart Is Strange , a new selection of his poems, along with reissues of Berryman's Sonnets , 77 Dream Songs , and the complete Dream Songs , marks the centenary of his birth. The Heart Is Strange includes a generous selection from across Berryman's varied career: from his earliest poems, which show him learning the craft, to his breakthrough masterpiece, Homage to Mistress Bradstreet," then to his mature verses, which find the poet looking back upon his lovers and youthful passions, and finally, to his late poems, in which he battles with sobriety and an increasingly religious sensibility. The defiant joy and wild genius of Berryman's work has been obscured by his struggles with mental illness and alcohol, his tempestuous relationships with women, and his suicide. This volume, which includes three previously uncollected poems and an insightful introduction by the editor Daniel Swift, celebrates the whole Berryman: tortured poet and teasing father, passionate lover and melancholy scholar. It is a perfect introduction to one of the finest bodies of work yet produced by an American poet."


Author Notes

John Berryman's poetry has a depth and obscurity that discourages many readers while it entices critics. His major work, The Dream Songs (1969), forms a poetic notebook that captures the ephemera of mood and attitude of this most mercurial of poets. Born John Smith in McAlester, Oklahoma, in 1914 and educated at Columbia University and Clare College, Cambridge, he later taught at several universities.

Berryman received the Shelley Memorial Award (1948), the Harriet Monroe Award (1957), the Loines Award for poetry of the National Institute of Arts and Letters (1964), and the fellowship of the Academy of American Poets (1966). In 1964 he won the Pulitzer Prize in poetry for 77 Dream Songs (1964). His short story "The Imaginary Jew" received the Kenyon-Doubleday Award and was listed in Best American Short Stories, (1946). He also wrote Stephen Crane (1950) and is the author of a novel, Recovery (1973). Often listed along with Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton as a major confessional poet, he was as much concerned with literary artifice as he was with personal revelation.

His works include The Freedom of the Poet, Henry's Fate & Other Poems, 1967-1972, Collected Poems 1937-1971, Berryman's Shakespeare, and Selected Poems.

Berryman committed suicide in 1972.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 1

Booklist Review

Swift's new selection of one of the most famous mid-twentieth-century American poets honors Berryman's centenary but is not intended to displace other selections. It is a retrospective clearly delineating Berryman's stylistic development from early work manifesting influences (Auden, Eliot, Yeats, Thomas), to the grammatically challenging poems with which he made his reputation, to the later poetry surrounding the creation of Henry, the protagonist of what Berryman called dream songs. Since 77 Dream Songs (1964), Berryman's Sonnets (1967), and the omnibus The Dream Songs (1969) are republishing in tandem with this selection, Swift does not draw from them. He does include two poems previously uncollected, one deleted from subsequent printings of Love & Fame (1970), and, invaluably, Berryman's initial masterpiece, Homage to Mistress Bradstreet. Swift's selection counters Berryman's identification as an American confessional poet. Yes, there is autobiography in Berryman's work, but his artistic goal was the reproduction or invention of the motions of a human personality that was not his alone. This selection constitutes a prolegomenon to the Henry project, to which its captivated readers will proceed.--Olson, Ray Copyright 2014 Booklist


Excerpts

Excerpts

Winter Landscape The three men coming down the winter hill In brown, with tall poles and a pack of hounds At heel, through the arrangement of the trees, Past the five figures at the burning straw, Returning cold and silent to their town, Returning to the drifted snow, the rink Lively with children, to the older men, The long companions they can never reach, The blue light, men with ladders, by the church The sledge and shadow in the twilit street, Are not aware that in the sandy time To come, the evil waste of history Outstretched, they will be seen upon the brow Of that same hill: when all their company Will have been irrecoverably lost, These men, this particular three in brown Witnessed by birds will keep the scene and say By their configuration with the trees, The small bridge, the red houses and the fire, What place, what time, what morning occasion Sent them into the wood, a pack of hounds At heel and the tall poles upon their shoulders, Thence to return as now we see them and Ankle-deep in snow down the winter hill Descend, while three birds watch and the fourth flies. The Disciple Summoned from offices and homes, we came. By candle-light we heard him sing; We saw him with a delicate length of string Hide coins and bring a paper through a flame; I was amazed by what that man could do. And later on, in broad daylight, He made someone sit suddenly upright Who had lain long dead and whose face was blue. But most he would astonish us with talk. The warm sad cadence of his voice, His compassion, and our terror of his choice, Brought each of us both glad and mad to walk Beside him in the hills after sundown. He spoke of birds, of children, long And rubbing tribulation without song For the indigent and crippled of this town. Ventriloquist and strolling mage, from us, Respectable citizens, he took The hearts and swashed them in an upland brook, Calling them his, all men's, anonymous. . . He gained a certain notoriety; The magical outcome of such love The State saw it could not at all approve And sought to learn where when that man would be. The people he had entertained stood by, I was among them, but one whom He harboured kissed him for the coppers' doom, Repenting later most bitterly. They ran him down and drove him up the hill. He who had lifted but hearts stood With thieves, performing still what tricks he could For men to come, rapt in compassion still. Great nonsense has been spoken of that time. But I can tell you I saw then A terrible darkness on the face of men, His last astonishment; and now that I'm Old I behold it as a young man yet. None of us now knows what it means, But to this day our loves and disciplines Worry themselves there. We do not forget. A Point of Age, Part I At twenty-five a man is on his way. The desolate childhood smokes on the dead hill, My adolescent brothels are shut down For industry has moved out of that town; Only the time-dishonoured beggars and The flat policemen, victims, I see still. Twenty-five is a time to move away. The travelling hands upon the tower call, The clock-face telescopes a long desire: Out of the city as the autos stream I watch, I whisper, Is it time . . time? Fog is enveloping the bridges, lodgers Shoulder and fist each other in the mire Where later, leaves, untidy lives will fall. Companions, travellers, by luck, by fault Whose none can ever decide, friends I had Have frozen back or slipt ahead or let Landscape juggle their destinations, slut Solace and drink drown the degraded eye. The fog is settling and the night falls, sad, Across the forward shadows where friends halt. Images are the mind's life, and they change. How to arrange it--what can one afford When ghosts and goods tether the twitching will Where it has stood content and would stand still If time's map bore the brat of time intact? Odysseys I examine, bed on a board, Heartbreak familiar as the heart is strange. In the city of the stranger I discovered Strike and corruption: cars reared on the bench To horn their justice at the citizen's head And hallow the citizen deaf, half-dead. The quiet man from his own window saw Insane wind take the ash, his favourite branch Wrench, crack; the hawk came down, the raven hovered. Slow spent stars wheel and dwindle where I fell. Physicians are a constellation where The blown brain sits a fascist to the heart. Late, it is late, and it is time to start. Sanction the civic woe, deal with your dear, Convince the stranger: none of us is well. We must travel in the direction of our fear. Copyright © 2014 by Kathleen Berryman Donahue Introduction and selection copyright © 2014 by Daniel Swift Excerpted from The Heart Is Strange: New Selected Poems by John Berryman All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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