Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Driving a Pack of Hounds

Most of my students have left for home already. I do have a 6:00 class which I must get to in just a moment--maybe there are one or two students left who need me. In between classes, I've been reading about the poet John Berryman, one of the "confessional" poets I plan to discuss in "From Angst to Art" next semester. In the Introduction to Berryman's collected poems, Charles Thornbury reveals that Berryman was a man of great intensity, even when he read. In a letter to his mother, Berryman describes reading Crime and Punishment:

How shall I tell you how I am reading it? As if I were driving a pack of hounds through a wood, feverishly; only every tree and bush is so unbearably interesting and exciting that I'd like to stop and examine it for a long time, but the hounds are off ahead and won't stop. ... My faculties are raging out in front of me. I haven't felt so powerfully in a long time. Even my unhappiness is acute, sharp, engaging.

Here, I think, Berryman does describe what it feels like to read a great book.

2 comments:

Cynthia said...

Here, I think, Berryman does describe what it feels like to read a great book.

Indeed. He does so perfectly.

dreaminglily said...

True... it's exactly like that...

~Lily

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"I was no better than dust, yet you cannot replace me. . . Take the soft dust in your hand--does it stir: does it sing? Has it lips and a heart? Does it open its eyes to the sun? Does it run, does it dream, does it burn with a secret, or tremble In terror of death? Or ache with tremendous decisions?. . ." --Conrad Aiken

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