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Homage to Mistress Bradstreet

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  114 ratings  ·  11 reviews
This volume represents the first appearance in paperback of one of America's most outstanding poets, John Berryman. It contains, besides the long title poem, Homage to Mistress Bradstreet, the major portion of Short Poems; a selection from The Dispossessed, which drew on two earlier collections; some poems from His Thought Made Pockets & The Plane Buckt; and one poem f ...more
Paperback, 112 pages
Published January 1st 1956 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Homage to Mistress Bradstreet begins with a short introduction to the text's subject matter, Anne Dudley and Simon Bradstreet...
[Born 1612 Anne Dudley, married at 16 Simon Bradstreet, a Cambridge man, steward to the Countess of Warwick & protégé of her father Thomas Dudley secretary to the Earl of Lincoln. Crossed in the Arbella, 1630, under Governor Winthrop.]

The first edition consists entirely of the long poem "Homage to Mistress Bradstreet" with pictures by Ben Shahn...
The Governor you
John Berryman's The Dream Songs is one of my favorite books. I was excited to read Homage to Mistress Bradstreet because Berryman is mostly known for his Dream Songs, and I wanted to see what else he wrote.

The book was not as good as the Dream Songs. I liked the Mistress Bradstreet poem (especially living in Massachusetts now). I really enjoyed the writer's unconventional relationship with his subject. I was impressed with his description of childbirth. Berryman also included notes on the poem a
La settimana dello sbarco quasi tutti stremati.
Dopo quindici giorni di venti contrari, ci atterrì
l'incontro con strane navi;
triste freddo alle ossa, stizza, scorbuto;
tanti ammalati che per un giorno non ci fu il sermone;
beghe represse; stanato un figlio senza padre; parassiti
s'affollano in attesa; in attesa.
E il giorno stesso che il giovane Henry Winthrop saltò
a terra.

(liberati dai flutti; poiché lungi dai wigwams
avvistò perspicace una canoa incustodita, oltre
una cala di marea
My first trip through the title poem--a really trippy raising of a dead soul. I can't quite grasp it, what I mean to say. . . the sum of this poem is greater than its parts, definitely. Bradstreet appears, gripes, the poet talks to her a bit, all in a highly condensed, clawingly distorted style. . . and yet it seems as if Berryman has really raised a presence, has reached outside his life and time.

Part of this long poem is a conversation between Berryman (the speaker?) and Anne Bradstreet (17th century American poet) in which Berryman seduces Bradstreet. Then there is Bradstreet talking about her life--raising children, struggling in the colonial environment...

Just figuring out this much was work. I found it very difficult. As usual, the syntax is wacko and the vocab obscure. I'm sure dozens of allusions passed over my head. But it's often worth it. There are some very viscerally striking
I feel like I would have gotten more out this poem series if I knew more about the life and/or work of Mistress Bradstreet. After reading the poems (or poem...I'm never sure with books like this) I read the notes, and then went back and revisited portions of the text and they made more sense. Then I went to Wikipedia and skimmed a quick bio of Bradstreet and more pieces fell into place. On its own I thought Berryman did a nice job of bringing the hard realities of the colonist's existence to lif ...more
Read the title poem -- which is essential, great poetry (5 stars for a long poem). The rest (3 stars) you can probably skip without feeling you've missed anything.
Sep 15, 2007 Tessa rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: early americanists, poetry readers
Shelves: pomes
This is quite a lovely poem with lovely illustrations. I recommend reading it in the middle of the river perched on a rock in the early fall.
Mark Desrosiers
Tightly wound metaphysical wit, confessional verse for history geeks and breeder pioneers.
One of the great poems. I read it at least every six months and am surprised and amazed each time.
What horror, down stormy air, warps towards me?
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Goodreads Librari...: Incorrect title 4 17 Jun 07, 2015 07:10PM  
Goodreads Librari...: Combining editions wrongfully separated 5 29 Jun 07, 2015 10:13AM  
John Allyn Berryman (originally John Allyn Smith) was an American poet, born in McAlester, Oklahoma. He was a major figure in American poetry in the second half of the 20th century and often considered one of the founders of the Confessional school of poetry. He was the author of The Dream Songs, which are playful, witty, and morbid. Berryman committed suicide in 1972.

A pamphlet entitled Poems was
More about John Berryman...
The Dream Songs 77 Dream Songs Collected Poems, 1937-1971 Selected Poems Berryman's Sonnets

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