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Dream Song #279

Leaving behind the country of the dead
where he must then return & die himself
he set his tired face due East
where the sun rushes up the North Atlantic
and where had paused a little the war for bread
& the war for status had ceased

forever, and he took with him five books,
a Whitman and a Purgatorio,
a one-volume dictionary,
an Oxford Bible with all its bays & nooks
& bafflements long familiar to Henry
& one other new book-O.

If ever he had crafted in the past --
but only if -- he swore now to craft better
which lay in the Hands above.
He said: I'll work on slow, O slow & fast,
& my whole year will be tense with love.

- John Berryman

April 4, 2004 in Poems | Permalink