Bounced from James Stewart

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Thu Dec 30 14:34:22 MST 1999

>But the only writers I can think of who wrote the way people speak were
>Samuel Beckett and John Berryman (maybe Zukerman too) and most people find
>their work to be unreadable.
>James Stewart

I don't know. I kind of like Berryman. I got drunk with him and Tony Hecht
up at my college after a poetry reading. A couple of great poets who were
complete alcoholics. Tony told me a couple of days after the binge that
Berryman was the most depressed human being he had ever met. Since Tony was
so experienced in that vein, I take his words as having some merit. In any
case, here's a Berryman poem. Not at all unreadable to me.

Winter Landscape

by John Berryman (1914-72)

The three men coming down the winter hill
In brown, with tall poles and a pack of hounds
At heel, through the arrangement of the trees,
Past the five figures at the burning straw,
Returning cold and silent to their town,

Returning to the drifted snow, the rink
Lively with children, to the older men,
The long companions they can never reach,
The blue light, men with ladders, by the church
The sledge and shadow in the twilit street,

Are not aware that in the sandy time
To come, the evil waste of history
Outstretched, they will be seen upon the brow
Of that same hill: when all their company
Will have been irrecoverably lost,

These men, this particular three in brown
Witnessed by birds will keep the scene and say
By their configuration with the trees,
The small bridge, the red houses and the fire,
What place, what time, what morning occasion

Sent them into the wood, a pack of hounds
At heel and the tall poles upon their shoulders,
Thence to return as now we see them and
Ankle-deep in snow down the winter hill
Descend, while three birds watch and the fourth flies.

Louis Proyect
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