Thursday, October 26, 2006

Yesterday ...

... as my partner in blogging, John Brumfield noted, was John Berryman's 92d birthday. I sort of owe Berryman. Back in my drinking days I used to ponder the poem "He Resigns" (from Delusions, etc.):

Age, and the deaths, and the ghosts.
Her having gone away
in spirit from me. Hosts
of regrets come & find me empty.

I don’t feel this will change.
I don’t want any thing
or person, familiar or strange.
I don’t think I will sing

any more just now;
ever. I must start
to sit with a blind brow
above an empty heart.

Patrick Kurp (in a post titled Gratitude and Despair) is right: "Chilling words from so garrulous a poet: 'I don’t think I will sing/any more just now;/ever.' "
I knew the poem before Berryman committed suicide and of course read it again the day he took his life. I don't know if you have to be deep in drink to appreciate it fully, but if you have been deep in drink you know its peculiar despair in perhaps a more knowing way. I visited the sight of Berryman's suicide when I visited Minneapolis many years ago. I felt I owed it to him. Because that poem, perhaps more than any other literary work - with the possible exception of Donald Newlove's Those Drinking Days - let me see where my own drinking was likely to lead me. That I didn't go there is what I owe Berryman - and dear Don Newlove.

No comments:

Post a Comment