Magazine January 25, 2021, Issue

John Berryman’s Letters Reveal a Confounding Catholic Faith

(Allison Joyce/Reuters)
The Selected Letters of John Berryman, edited by Philip Coleman and Calista McRae (Belknap Press, 736 pp., $39.95)

‘Master of beauty, crafts­man of the snowflake, / inimitable contriver,” John Berry­man wrote. “I have made up a morning prayer to you.” It was May 1970, and the Pulitzer Prize–winning poet was at St. Mary’s Hospital in Minneapolis, for a second round of treatment for alcoholism. “You have come to my rescue again & again / in my impassable, sometimes despairing years,” Berryman reflected, “and I believe as fixedly in the Resurrection-appearances to Peter & to Paul / as I believe I sit in this blue chair.”

Berryman is a fascinating — and confounding — study in poetic faith and doubt.

This article appears as “A Confounding Faith” in the January 25, 2021, print edition of National Review.

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In This Issue



Books, Arts & Manners


The Week

The Week

Republicans put up two weak candidates in a competitive state, and then discouraged their voters from showing up.

The Great Reset

Lunatic paranoids think it means a lizard in the shape of Bill Gates is going to microchip everyone with a vaccine so we can be tracked.
The Long View


Senator, please review this and note changes, thanks — fundraising letter needs to drop tomorrow PM!!!!


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