Monday, April 12, 2010

Homage to Mistress Bradstreet and Other Poems by John Berryman

John Berryman's The Dream Songs is one of my favorite books. I was excited to read Homage to Mistress Bradstreet and Other Poems because Berryman is mostly known for his Dream Songs, and I wanted to see what else he wrote.

The book was not as good as the Dream Songs. I liked the Mistress Bradstreet poem (especially living in Massachusetts now). I really enjoyed the writer's unconventional relationship with his subject. I was impressed with his description of childbirth. Berryman also included notes on the poem at the end, and some of those were just as entertaining as the poem.

I really didn't like the poems included in the "Early Poems" section of the book. I didn't like his strict rhyming in these poems, the form really sticks out in an awkward way. I think his later looser forms worked better. He was also pretty traditional with the subject matter in the early poems, and it was a relief to see his style heading toward the unusual. They are also lacking his twisted sense of humor, like Berryman is trying to be super serious.

I liked some of the other poems, but they were mostly the "Nervous Songs" which seemed like a prototype for the Dream Songs, without Henry or Mister Bones, unfortunately.

My favorite poems in the book:

Homage to Mistress Bradstreet (I can't believe Poetry's website includes the whole poem)

The Captain's Song

Young Woman's Song

Song of the Demented Priest

(I am reading extra slow lately because I am doing NaPoWriMo.)


At 2:29 PM, Blogger beth coyote said...

Wow, I read Homage to Mistress Bradstreet-ended up reading it out loud-music, beauty, terrible beauty. I will seek out Mr Berryman. thanks.


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