John Berryman

POETRY: Eleven Addresses To The Lord — 11 by John Berryman

February 9, 2018

Germanicus leapt upon the wild lion in Smyrna, wishing to pass quickly from a lawless life. The crowd shook the stadium. The proconsul marveled. “Eighty & six years have I been his servant, and he has done me no harm. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?” Polycarp, John’s pupil, facing the fire. Make too me acceptable at the end of time in my degree, which then Thou wilt award. Cancer, senility, mania, I pray I may be ready with my [...]

POETRY: Eleven Addresses To The Lord — 10 by John Berryman

February 7, 2018

Fearful I peer upon the mountain path where once Your shadow passed, Limner of the clouds up their phantastic guesses. I am afraid, I never until now confessed. I fell back in love with you, Father, for two reasons: You were good to me, & a delicious author, rational & passionate. Come on me again, as twice you came to Azarias & Misael. President of the brethren, our mild assemblies inspire, & bother the priest not to be dull; keep us week-long in order; love my children, my mother far & ill, far brother, my spouse. Oil all my turbulence as at Thy dictation I sweat out my wayward works. Father Hopkins said the only true literary critic is Christ. Let me lie down exhausted, content with [...]

POETRY: Eleven Addresses To The Lord — 9 by John Berryman

February 2, 2018

Surprise me on some ordinary day with a blessing gratuitous. Even I’ve done good beyond their expectations. What count we then upon Your bounty? Interminable: an old theologian asserts that even to say You exist is misleading. Uh-huh. I buy that Second-century fellow. I press his withered glorifying hand. You certainly do not as I exist, impersonating as well the meteorite & flaring in your sun your waterfall or blind in caves pallid fishes. Bear in mind me, Who have forgotten nothing, & Who continues. I may not foreknow & fail much to remember. You sustain imperial desuetudes, at the kerb a [...]

POETRY: Eleven Addresses To The Lord — 8 by John Berryman

January 26, 2018

A Prayer For The Self Who am I worthless that You spent such pains and take may pains again? I do not understand; but I believe. Jonquils respond with wit to the teasing breeze. Induct me down my secrets. Stiffen this heart to stand their horrifying cries, O cushion the first the second shocks, will to a halt in mid-air there demons who would be at me. May fade before, sweet morning on sweet morning, I wake my dreams, my fan-mail go astray, and do me little goods I have not thought of, ingenious & beneficial Father. Ease in their passing my beloved friends, all others too I have cared for in a travelling life, anyone anywhere indeed. Lift up sober toward truth a scared [...]

POETRY: Eleven Addresses To The Lord — 7 by John Berryman

January 19, 2018

After a Stoic, a Peripatetic, a Pythagorean, Justin Martyr studied the words of the Savior, finding them short, precise, terrible & full of refreshment. I am tickled to learn this. Let one day desolate Sherry, fair, thin, tall, at 29 today her life the Sahara Desert, who never has once enjoyed a significant relation, so find His lightning [...]

POETRY: Eleven Addresses To The Lord — 6 by John Berryman

January 12, 2018

Under new management, Your Majesty: Thine. I have solo’d mine since childhood, since my father’s blow-it-all when I was twelve blew out my most bright candle faith, and look at me. I served at Mass six dawns a week from five, adoring Father Boniface & you, memorizing the Latin he explained. Mostly we worked alone. One or two women. Then my poor father frantic. Confusions & afflictions followed my days. Wives left me. Bankrupt I closed my doors. You pierced the roof twice & again. Finally you opened my eyes. My double nature fused in that point of time three weeks ago day before yesterday. Now, brooding thro’ a history of the early Church, I identify with everybody, even the [...]

POETRY: Eleven Addresses To The Lord — 5 by John Berryman

January 5, 2018

Holy & holy. The damned are said to say “We never thought we would come into this place.” I’m fairly clear, my Friend, there’s no such place ordained for inappropriate & evil man. Surely they fall dull, & forget. We too, the more or less just, I feel fall asleep dreamless forever while the world hurl out. Rest may be your ultimate gift. Rest or transfiguration! come & come whenever Thou wilt. My daughter & my son fend will without me, when my work is done in Your opinion. Strengthen my widow, let her dream on me thro’ tranquil hours less & down to less. Abrupt elsewhere her heart, I sharply hope. I leave her in wise [...]

POETRY: Eleven Addresses To The Lord — 4 by John Berryman

December 29, 2017

If I say Thy name, art Thou there? It may be so. Thou art not absent-minded, as I am. I am so much so I had to give up driving. You attend, I feel, to the matters of man. Across the ages certain blessings swarm, horrors accumulate, the best men fail: Socrates, Lincoln, Christ mysterious. Who can search Thee out? except Isaiah & Pascal, who saw. I dare not ask that vision, though a piece of it at last in crisis was vouchsafèd me. I altered then for good, to become yours. Caretaker! take care, for we run in straight. Daily, by night, we walk naked to storm, some threat of wholesale loss, to ruinous fear. Gift us with long cloaks & adrenaline. Who haunt the avenues of Angkor Wat recalling all that prayer, that glory dispersed, haunt [...]

POETRY: Eleven Addresses To The Lord — 3 by John Berryman

December 22, 2017

Sole watchman of the flying stars, guard me against my flicker of impulse lust: teach me to see them as sisters & daughters. Sustain my grand endeavors: husbandship & crafting. Forsake me not when my wild hours come; grant me sleep nightly, grace soften my dreams achieve in me patience till the thing be done, a careful view of my achievement come. Make me from time to time the gift of the shoulder. When all hurt nerves whine shut away the whiskey. Empty my heart toward Thee. Let me pace without fear the common path of death. Cross am I sometimes with my little daughter: fill her eyes with tears. Forgive me, Lord. Unite my various soul, sole watchman of the wide & single [...]

POETRY: Eleven Addresses To The Lord — 2 by John Berryman

December 15, 2017

Holy, as I suppose I dare to call you without pretending to know anything about you but infinite capacity everywhere & always & in particular certain goodness to me. Yours is the crumpling, to my sister-in-law terrifying thunder, yours the candelabra buds sticky in Spring, Christ’s mercy, the gloomy wisdom of godless Freud: yours the lost souls in ill-attended wards, those agonized thro’ the world at this instant of time, all evil men, Belsen, Omaha Beach,— incomprehensible to man your ways. May be the Devil after all exists. “I don’t try to reconcile anything” said the poet at eighty, “This is a damned strange world.” Man is ruining the pleasant earth & man. What at last, My Lord, [...]

POETRY: Eleven Addresses To The Lord — 1 by John Berryman

December 8, 2017

Master of beauty, craftsman of the snowflake, inimitable contriver, endower of Earth so gorgeous & different from the boring Moon, thank you for such as it is my gift. I have made up a morning prayer to you containing with precision everything that most matters. “According to Thy will” the thing begins. It took me off & on two days. It does not aim at eloquence. You have come to my rescue again & again in my impassable, sometimes despairing years. You have allowed my brilliant friends to destroy themselves and I am still here, severely damaged, but functioning. Unknowable, as I am unknown to my guinea pigs: how can I “love” you? I only as far as gratitude & awe confidently & absolutely go. I have [...]