‘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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