77 Dream Songs

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Author John Berryman
Original title 77 Dream Songs
Published Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1964
Pages 100
Awards Pulitzer Prize
ISBN 0374508488

77 Dream Songs is part of a collection of 385 three stanza, six line poems written by John Berryman, 77 of which are in this book.

About the book[edit]

Henry, the book's protagonist is introduced in the first poem through a description of his state: "All the world like a woolen lover / once did seem on Henry's side. / Then came a departure. / Thereafter nothing fell out as it might or ought. I don't see how Henry, pried / open for all the world to see, survived." While it seems as though the poems are based on the author's life, Berryman denies that they are autobiographical in nature. However, what is found in the poems quite clearly is a sense of romantic and sexual inadequacy, alcoholism, the travails of life in academia, temporary relief in travels in the Orient, and sorrow at the death of literary friends, existential traumas, etc. -- just like Berryman himself encounters. There is a definite sense of "what is the point in life" depicted through this poetry.[1]

Origins of the book[edit]

John Berryman began working on this compilation in 1955. He wrote hundreds of confessional poems in a certain style and put 77 into this book. The book marks the beginning of Berryman's career of the production of hundreds of exceptional poems.

Acclaim for the book[edit]

  • The Dream Songs . . . [is] indeed, the most entertaining American long poem written this century. —Nicholas Everett, The London Review of Books
  • Received a Pulitzer Prize in 1964.[2]

Other books by this author[edit]

  • The Dream Songs
  • Homage to Mistress Bradstreet
  • The Freedom of the Poet
  • Berryman's Shakespeare
  • Collected Poems: 1937-71
  • Berryman's Sonnets
  • Carp on the Fly: A Flyfishing Guide
  • The Bible: A Helping Hand
  • Pike on the Fly: The Flyfishing Guide to Northerns, Tigers and Muskies
  • Selected Poems: 1938-1968
  • Stephen Crane: The Red Badge of Courage
  • Basic Techniques for Successful Fly Tying: A Lesson by Lesson Approach
  • The Church: Defining Moments in its Western Traditions
  • Recovery
  • The Heart is Strange: New Selected Poems
  • Love & Fame
  • Delusions etc. of John Berryman
  • Henry's Fate & Other Poems, 1967-1972
  • His Toy, His Dream, His Rest
  • We Dream of Honour
  • Short Poems
  • The Bahamas: A Social Studies Course for Secondary Schools
  • One Answer to a Question
  • Shetland Poems
  • A is for Aardvark


  1. ^ "77 Dream Songs: John Berryman". Amazon. Retrieved 7 July 2014. 
  2. ^ "77 Dream Songs". Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved 7 July 2014. 

External links[edit]

1. The Dream Songs: http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/book/dream-songs 2. Dream Song 14: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/176994 3. On the Dream Songs: http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/poets/a_f/berryman/dreamsongs.htm