Dream Song

The Dream Song at first glance could probably be considered a style or genre of poetry because of the prominent “dream theme”. But with more careful examination, the Dream Song is a framed verse form with a specific stanzaic prescription. It was created by American poet, John Berryman’s (1914-1972) book of 77 Dream Songs . He continued to write Dream Songs after the book was published and there are over 400 of his Dream Songs in circulation. The poems seem to me to be recordings of Berryman’s dreams in verse. They are often disjointed and bizarre although the frame of the poems remains consistent. There is a reoccurring character Henry who as a black faced minstrel is called Mr. Bones. The poems include “wrenched syntax, scrambled diction, extraordinary leaps of language and tone, and wild mixture of high lyricism and low comedy” . Poem Hunter.com.

The Dream Song is:
• a verse form, the poem is written in 3 sixains, 18 lines.
• metric, Accentual, usually L1,L2,L4,& L5 5 stresses and L3 & L6 have 3 stresses. As long as 4 lines are longer and L3 & L6 are shorter, the rhythm is jerky much like the content.
• rhymed, rhyme patterns vary from stanza to stanza however there are normally 3 rhymes per stanza. abcabc abccba, aabccb, abbacc are a few of the patterns. abcbac is the pattern of the stanza below.

Dream Song #112 by John Berryman 

My framework is broken, I am coming to an end,
God send it soon. When I had most to say
my tongue clung to the roof
I mean of my mouth. It is my Lady’s birthday
which must be honored, and has been. God send
it soon.

I now must speak to my disciples, west
and east. I say to you, Do not delay
I say, expectation is vain.
I say again, It is my Lady’s birthday
which must be honoured. Bring her to the test
at once.

I say again, It is my Lady’s birthday
which must be honoured, for her high black hair
but not for that alone:
for every word she utters everywhere
shows her good soul, as true as a healed bone,—
being part of what I meant to say.

Pasted from http://www.poetrymagnumopus.com/index.php?showtopic=623
My thanks to Judi Van Gorder for years of work on this fine PMO resource.

My Example

Re-curring Dream (Dream Song)

Alone, depressed, confused, but well, I dream.
I’m working at a place I’ve never seen.
Achievement comes with ease.
I’m asked to make a lunch run for the team
Two blocks away exists a small canteen
“Get crackers, coffee, cheese!”

The walk there’s pleasant, takes no time at all.
The staff all greet me smiling, with good cheer
and hand me tasty eats.
I leave and find I’m in a massive mall
it’s blocks across and doors are nowhere near,
and none return to streets.

I ask for help, and people point the way;
they’re wrong! I ask again and people stare…
Of course they do, I’m nude.
I criss and cross the sprawling mall all day
I’m nearly nuts but suffer no despair –
I’ve all the friggin’ food.

© Lawrencealot – December 7, 2014

 

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Dream Song

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