Often the only books I can turn to in a tired evening, when my heads feels like a hot medicine ball, are Mr. Berryman's-- his diction, his rhythms, and the absurd theatricality of his speaker, somehow managing to communicate an acute sincerity, are vivid enough for my mind to track. Only his last few books of poetry-- Love & Fame; Delusions, Etc.; and Henry's Fate (a posthumous collection of unpublished work)-- are there. At times these poems read like desperate (or wildly bored) journal entries, and sometimes they read like the Dreamsongs, but always marked by the presence, immediate, of his very near-to-your-ear voice.
I've been thinking about next year, about where I'll go now that I've finished this Irvine stint, and happened upon this one, from Henry's Fate:
Young men (young women) ask about my 'roots,'
as if I were a plant. Yeats said to me,
with some preteniousness, I felt even then,
'London is useful, but I always go back
to Ireland, where my roots are.' Mr. Eliot
too, worried about his roots
whether beside the uncontrollable river
the Mississippi, or the Thames, or elsewhere.
I can't see it. Many are wanderers,
both Lawrences, Byron, & the better for it.
Many stay home forever: Hardy: fine.
Bother these bastards with their preconceptions.
The hell with it. Whether to go or stay
be Fate's, or mine, or matter.
Exile is in our time like blood. Depend on
interior journeys taken anywhere.
I'd rather live in Venice or Kyoto,
except for the languages, but
O really I don't care where I live or have lived.
Wherever I am, young Sir, my wits about me,
memory blazing, I'll cope & make do.