Quotes from The Dream Songs

John Berryman ·  427 pages

Rating: (6K votes)


“Life, friends, is boring. We must not say so.
After all, the sky flashes, the great sea yearns,
we ourselves flash and yearn”
― John Berryman, quote from The Dream Songs


“These Songs are not meant to be understood, you understand.
They are only meant to terrify & comfort.”
― John Berryman, quote from The Dream Songs


“Them lady poets must not marry, pal.”
― John Berryman, quote from The Dream Songs


“I conclude now I have no
inner resources, because I am heavy bored.
Peoples bore me,
literature bores me, especially great literature, ”
― John Berryman, quote from The Dream Songs


“Them lady poets must not marry, pal . . . It is a true error to marry with poets / or to be by them.”
― John Berryman, quote from The Dream Songs



“ Two daiquiris
withdrew into a corner of a gorgeous room
and one told the other a lie.”
― John Berryman, quote from The Dream Songs


“Listen, for poets are feigned to lie, and I
For you a liar am a thousand times . . . .”
― John Berryman, quote from The Dream Songs


“Soon part of me will explore the deep and dark
Floor of the harbour . . I am everywhere,
I suffer and move, my mind and my heart move
With all that move me, under the water”
― John Berryman, quote from The Dream Songs


“The splendour & the lose grew all the same, Sire.”
― John Berryman, quote from The Dream Songs


“Is stuffed, de world, wif feeding girls.”
― John Berryman, quote from The Dream Songs



“Springwater grow so thick it gonna clot and the pleasing ladies cease. I figure, yup, you is bad powers.”
― John Berryman, quote from The Dream Songs


“That baby has got to learn things
including remaining erect & on deck & all,
her study of herself must include no wings.

She's sturdy, beautiful, & she will do, unless
the universal homage turns her head
as it might well do mine,
hypnotized by the Little Baby...”
― John Berryman, quote from The Dream Songs


“Hunger was constitutional with him,
women, cigarettes, liquor, need need need
until he went to pieces.
The pieces sat up & wrote. They did not heed
their piecedom but kept very quietly on
among the chaos.”
― John Berryman, quote from The Dream Songs


“The only happy people in the world
are those who do not have to write long poems”
― John Berryman, quote from The Dream Songs


“Yeats knew nothing about life: it was all symbols
& Wordsworthian egotism: Yeats on Cemetery Ridge
would not have been scared, like you & me,
he would have been, before the bullet that was his,
studying the movements of the birds,
said disappointed & amazed Henry.”
― John Berryman, quote from The Dream Songs



“All souls converge upon a hopeless mote
tonight, as though

the throngs of souls in hopeless pain rise up
to say they cannot care, to say they abide
whatever is to come.
My air is flung with souls which will not stop
and among them hangs a soul that has not died
and refuses to come home.”
― John Berryman, quote from The Dream Songs


“I ask for a decree
dooming my bitter enemies to laughter
advanced against them.”
― John Berryman, quote from The Dream Songs


“It's wonderful the way cats bound about,
it's wonderful how men are not found out
so far.
It's miserable how many miserable are
over the spread world at this tick of time.
These mysteries that I'm

rehearsing in the dark did brighter minds
much bother through them ages, whom who
finds
guilty for failure?
Up all we rose with the dawn, springy for pride,
trying all morning. Dazzled, I subside
at noon, noon be my gaoler

and afternoon the deepening of the task
poor Henry set himself long since to ask:
Why? Who? When?
--I don't know, Mr Bones. You asks too much
of such as you & me & we & such
fast cats, worse men.”
― John Berryman, quote from The Dream Songs


“During those years he met his seminars,
went & lectured & read, talked with human beings,
paid insurance & taxes;
but his mind was not on it. his mind was elsewheres
in an area where the soul not talks but sings
& where foes are attacked with axes.”
― John Berryman, quote from The Dream Songs


“And there is another thing he has in mind
like a grave Sienese face a thousand years
would fail to blur the still profiled reproach of. Ghastly,
with open eyes, he attends, blind.
All the bells say: too late. This is not for tears;
thinking.”
― John Berryman, quote from The Dream Songs



“General Fatigue stalked in, & a Major-General,
Captain Fatigue, and at the base of all
pale Corporal Fatigue,
and curious microbes came, came viruses:
and the Court conferred on Henry, and conferred on Henry
the rare Order of Weak.”
― John Berryman, quote from The Dream Songs


“Foes I sniff, when I have less to shout
or murmur. Pals alone enormous sounds
downward & up bring real.
Loss, deaths, terror. Over & out,
beloved: thanks for cabbage on my wounds:
I'll feed you how I feel:--

of avocado moist with lemon, yea
formaldehyde & rotting sardines O
in our appointed time
I would I could a touch more fully say
my countless mind. The senses are below,
which in this air sublime

do I repudiate. But foes I sniff!
My nose in all directions! I be so brave
I creep into an Arctic cave
for the rectal temperature of the biggest bear,
hibernating -- in my left hand sugar.
I totter to the lip of the cliff.”
― John Berryman, quote from The Dream Songs


“Nothin very bad happen to me lately.
How you explain that? --I explain that, Mr
Bones,
terms o' your bafflin odd sobriety.
Sober as man can get, no girls, no telephones,
what could happen bad to Mr Bones?
--If life is a handkerchief sandwich,

in a modesty of death I join my father
who dared so long agone leave me.
A bullet on a concrete stoop
close by a smothering southern sea
spreadeagled on an island, by my knee.
--You is from hunger, Mr Bones,

I offers you this handkerchief, now set
your left foot by my right foot,
shoulder to shoulder, all that jazz,
arm in arm, by the beautiful sea,
hum a little, Mr Bones.
--I saw nobody coming, so I went instead.”
― John Berryman, quote from The Dream Songs


“leave wizard Henry: at his lectern where
he's working on his phantasies: Disperse!
and everything goes worse
so the world fills with her knees, harmful & fair:
a medium where 'Fuck you' comes as no curse
but come as a sigh or a prayer.”
― John Berryman, quote from The Dream Songs


About the author

John Berryman
Born place: in McAlester, Oklahoma, The United States
Born date October 25, 1914
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