John Berryman Poems
- The Ball Poem What is the boy now, who has lost his ...
- Dream Song 28: Snow Line It was wet & white & swift ...
- Dream Song 149 The world is gradually becoming a place where...
- Dream Song 47: April Fool's Da...
- Dream Song 1: Huffy Henry Hid ... Huffy Henry hid the...
- Dream Song 23: The Lay Of Ike This is the lay of Ike. Here's...
- Dream Song 84: Op. Posth. No. ... Plop, plop. The lobster ...
John Allyn Berryman was an American poet and scholar, born in McAlester, Oklahoma. He was a major figure in American poetry in the second half of the 20th century and was considered a key figure in the Confessional school of poetry. His best-known work is The Dream Songs.
Life and Career
John Berryman was born and raised in Oklahoma until the age of 10, when his father, John Smith, a banker, and his mother, Martha, who was a schoolteacher, moved to Tampa, Florida. In 1926, in Florida, when the poet was twelve, his father shot and killed himself just outside his son's bedroom window. Berryman was haunted by his father's suicide for the rest of his life and would later ... more »
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Quotationsmore quotations »
''The artist is extremely lucky who is presented with the worst possible ordeal which will not actually kill him. At that point, he's in business.''John Berryman (1914-1972), U.S. poet. Interview in Writers at Work, Fourth Series, ed. George Plimpton (1976).
The Ball Poem
What is the boy now, who has lost his ball,
What, what is he to do? I saw it go
Merrily bouncing, down the street, and then
Merrily over--there it is in the water!
No use to say 'O there are other balls':
An ultimate shaking grief fixes the boy
As he stands rigid, trembling, staring down
All his young days into the harbour where
His ball went. I would not intrude on him,
A dime, another ball, is worthless. Now
He senses first responsibility
In a world of possessions. People will take balls,
Balls will be lost always, little boy,
And no one buys a ball...