CRITICISM "I AM FLEEING DOUBLE": DUALITY AND DIALECTIC IN THE DREAM SONGS I JOHN BERRYMAN' S magnum opus, The Dream Songs, has remained one of the enigmas of modern poetry, a work more shifting and illusive than other booklength poems of its era: Paterson, The Maximus Poems, and perhaps Lowell's History. Critics have been confused as to whether to take The Dream Songs as a cohesive work of art or as an artistic autobiography written simultaneously with the living of the events described and consequently having no more, but no less, intrinsic form than that life being lived. In point of fact, The Dream Songs is not the "openended" poem some critics have understood it to be. Berryman did not add dream songs to the end of the sequence as William Carlos Williams added Book Five and proposed to add Book Six to Paterson after he had initially proclaimed the work complete in four books. If anything, The Dream Songs is "open-middled," since Berryman published what is presently the final dream song, Song 385, as "The Last Dream Song: 161" in 1965, considerably before many of the poems in His Toy, His Dream, His Rest would have been
The Missouri Review – University of Missouri
Published: Oct 5, 1980
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