Joel Conarroe: On "Dream Song 29"

[Conarroe quotes the last stanza.]

… The lines above describe the morning horrors of an alcoholic who has no memory at all of what he may have done during a blacked-out period the night before, and who automatically fears the worst. Though nobody is ever missing, Henry knows that he is capable of "ending" someone and hacking her up (a recurring misogynous fantasy in Berryman’s work), and this helps account for his identification with [Richard] Speck, who murdered several nurses in Chicago, with the insane Texas sniper [Charles] Whitman (whose father taught him "respect for guns but not for people"), and with Loeb, who gave himself wholly to crime. One is inevitably reminded of Life Studies in which Robert Lowell expresses a terrible sense of kinship with Czar Lepke of Murder Incorporated [in "Memories of West Street and Lepke"].

 

from Joel Conarroe , John Berryman: An Introduction to the Poetry (New York: Columbia U P, 1977), 101-102. Copyright 1977 Columbia University Press.

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Criticism Overview
Title Joel Conarroe: On "Dream Song 29" Type of Content Criticism
Criticism Author Joel Conarroe Criticism Target John Berryman
Criticism Type Poet Originally Posted 29 Mar 2016
Publication Status Excerpted Criticism Publication John Berryman: An Introduction to the Poetry
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