Giving It Verbal Hell

Dublin Bar

300 – The Dream Songs
Henry Comforted

by John Berryman

Your first day in Dublin is always your worst
& today is better, as when thirty years ago
I recovered my spirits at once.
Unshaven, tieless, with the most expensive drink in the room,
I have recovered a little.  The room is filling
with Irish types – one gorgeous girl,

pipe-men, cigarette-men, a portentous black beard,
& the accents are flying: the all-service man
is a giant with a shock of red hair & and easy air.
Henry is feeling better,
owing to three gin-&-vermouths.
He is seeking where to live & pursue his work.

The Irish are not neat, except in the Book of Kells,
The skirts are as short here as in Minnesota.
What the services need
is a teen-age H-bomb: fashions their elders can follow,
His shoes are monumental, Egyptian, ay
the two at me left are giving it verbal hell.


I wonder what Berryman and Dowden would have ordered in a Dublin bar together if time travel made that meeting possible?   Guinness? Irish whisky?  Or hard cider?   Let’s make it a double and sit down for a while, the conversation around poetry is going to run well into the night.

From their poetry I would deduce that both Berryman and Dowden had the gift for listening, though Berryman toiled with much greater freedom in how to set his fellow man’s tongue upon the page.  Greater freedom was not enough to save Berryman, or maybe I miss the point of his demise, being too judgmental. Maybe freedom is precisely what he achieved.

Today’s post is number 300 for Fourteenlines.  The journey continues to be entertaining and challenging, at least for me.  I sometimes worry that my format might not stand up to the test of 1,000 posts, becoming mundane and formulaic in the eyes of readers other than myself. I hope I deliver a surprise now and again in both the varied authors poetry that I share and in a couple of lines in my commentary.  I appreciate the people from all over the world that touch base with Fourteenlines, either as a regular visitor or as a one time interaction, looking for the exact poem to fill up their cup.  Remember, I welcome feedback, take requests and am open to guest bloggers. Be well, write without judgement of yourself and breathe.


Darwinism in Morals

Edward Dowden (1843-1913)

High instincts, dim perversions, sacred fears,
–Whence issuing? Are they but the brain’s amassed
Tradition, shapings of a barbarous past,
Remoulded ever by the younger years,
Mixed with fresh clay, and kneaded with new tears?
No more? The dead chief’s ghost a shadow cast
Across the roving clan, and thence at last
Comes God, who in the soul His law uprears?
Is this the whole? Has not the Future powers
To match the Past,–attractions, pulsings, tides,
And voices for purged ears? Is all our light
The glow of ancient sunsets and lost hours?
Advance no banners up heaven’s eastern sides?
Trembles the margin with no portent bright?

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A Sonnet Obsession

I am a life-long Minnesotan who resides in Minneapolis. I hope you enjoy my curated selection of sonnets, short poems and nerdy ruminations.

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