BERRYMAN'S SONNETS by John Berryman

BERRYMAN'S SONNETS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Berryman's best work is both a strangely contemporary variant of the confessional mode and a continuation of the tradition of the personae. Behind the colonial atmosphere of Homage to Mistress Bradstreet lies the figure of the alienated, anguished artist; in Dream Songs, beneath the wry surrealism, we discern the poete maudit as a Chaplinesque martyr to the times. Though markedly uneven, these creations, especially in syntax and rhythm, are among the most unique accomplishments in American verse since Grane. Now we have a much earlier effort, Berryaman's Sonnets, composed during the Forties, and these oddly romantic pieces idiosyncratically modeled on the Petrarchan form, are of interest chiefly for the glimpses they give us into the poet's obsessional technical concerns and the development of his peculiarly poignant tone and wayward diction. The randomly sustained parallel--Petrarch's Laura and Berryman's Lise--affords a half-sprightly, half-meditative juxtaposition of the past and present, as well as chronicling private woes and passion with a variety of syncopated troubadour effects. While intermittently charming , the result is hardly memorable Berryman.

Pub Date: April 24th, 1967
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux