Robert Lowel & John Berryman Lowell and Berryman Robert Lowell and John Berryman both used their personal experiences as visuals in their writings. Their styles are similar in that aspect. Robert Lowell’s poem “The Drunken Fisherman” tells a story about himself fishing, and describes the seen in great detail. “Of Suicide”, written by John Berryman, is an autobiographical poem about how depressed he is. Berryman’s work describes in detail what he thinks about and what was going on in his life at that moment making him feel so depressed. “The Drunken Fisherman” by Robert Lowell is a poem based on a specific instance, when the writer was fishing.
THE DRUNKEN FISHERMAN Wallowing in this bloody sty, I cast for fish that pleased my eye (Truly Jehovah’s bow suspends No pots of gold to weight its ends); Only the blood mouthed rainbow trout Rose to my bait. They flopped about My canvas creel until the moth Corrupted its unstable cloth. The first part of the poem explains what he is doing. The writer is fishing for rainbow trout because he likes the way it looks. Lowell states that he is not fishing for money, rather he is fishing for rainbow trout, a fish that likes the taste of blood.
When he catches a fish, he puts it in his canvas pouch where it flops about until it is dead. A calendar to tell the day A handkerchief to wave away The gnats; a couch unstuffed with storm Pouching a bottle in one arm; A whisky bottle full of worms; And bedroom slacks: are these fit terms To mete the worm whose molten rage boils in the belly of old age? This part of the poem describes the physical appearance of the subject. He has a calendar to tell what day it is, a handkerchief to swat at the gnats. He is sitting on, or could possibly be, like a couch that is old and weathered. He sits with a bottle of whisky in one arm, and another empty bottle filled with worms in the other.
His attire consists of simple, worn pajamas. He asks if this these terms are good enough to be fishing with worms, in his old age. Once fishing was a rabbits foot- O wind blow cold, O wind blow hot, Let suns stay in or suns step out: Life danced a jig on the sperm-whale’s spout- The fisher’s fluent and obscene Catches kept his conscience clean. Children, the raging memory drools Over the glory of past pools. He says that fishing used to be good luck. Weather it was hot or cold and in day or night, you could always catch a fish to eat.
He goes on to tell how people exploited fishing, particularly the sperm-whale, saying that fishermen used to catch a lot in order to keep there conscious clean of the harm they were doing, so that the money they were making out weighed the guilt. But there children will never be able to escape the memory of the harm their parents caused just for glory. Now the hot river, ebbing, hauls Its bloody waters into holes; A grain of sand inside my shoe Mimics the moon that might undo Man and Creation too; remorse, Stinking, has puddled up its source; Here tantrums thrash to a wale’s rage. This is the pot-hole of old age. The hot river of blood flows back to the sea, it waters into holes in the earth like a grain of sand that doesn’t really mater any more, its just part of the world.
It is a part of man and creation that has been plugged up time after time, but that will never stop the rage of the whale. The last line of this stanza brings you back to the seen that was set before, of an old man sitting in his old age. Is there no way to cast my hook Out of this dynamited brook? The Fisher’s sons must cast about When shallow waters peter about. I will catch Christ with a greased worm, And when the Prince of Darkness stalks My bloodstream to its stygian term.. On water the Man-Fisher walks.
He asks if there is any way to get out of the life that he has created for himself, he only hopes that his children can find another way. He will find salvation in fishing while he awaits his death. Death comes in all shapes and sizes, his will come in the form of a Man-Fisher. You reap what you sow. John Berryman’s ” Of Suicide” is a poem that was obviously written when the author was contemplating suicide.
He uses his personal life to identify with the reader. The imagery of the poem suggests instances in your own life not necessarily his. Of Suicide Reflections on suicide, & on my father, possess me. I drink too much. My wife threatens separation.
She won’t ‘nurse’ me. She feels ‘inadequate’. We Don’t mix together. The start of the poem is the basis for everything to come. He is thinking about suicide and his father who killed himself outside his son’s window by shooting himself in the head.
He is an alcoholic and his wife has had enough of it. She won’t console him any more, not to mention anything else. They don’t get along anymore and he knows it. It’s an hour later in the East. I could call up Mother in Washington, D.C. But could she help me? And all this postal adulation & reproach? He could call up his mother to talk, but is that going to help.
All he seems to talk about with her is how he doesn’t write enough. He would not hear anything other than how much she loves him and and her praises of him. A basis rock-like of love & friendship for all this world-wide madness seems to be needed. Epictetus is in some ways my favorite philosopher. Happy men have died earlier. Love and friendship is a basis for the world-wide madness that seams to be needed to keep reality real and not pretend.
Epictetus is his favorite philosopher, but happier men have died earlier than him. I still plan to go to Mexico this summer. The Olmec images! Chichn Itz! D. H. Lawrence has a wild dream of it. Malcolm Lowry’s book when it came out I taught to my precept at Princeton.
He still plans to go to Mexico to see the great sights. Another writer had dreams of it. When he read the book by Malcolm Lowry he taught his class with the highest moral he could. I don’t entirely resign. I may teach the Third Gospel this afternoon. I haven’t made up my mind.
It seems to me sometimes that others have easier jobs & do them worse. He didn’t entirely resign from his teaching position, he may still teach the third gospel in the afternoon, but he hasn’t decided if he is going to make it that far yet. It seems to him that others have easier jobs than his and they do them worse. He appears to be incredibly discouraged as an individual, but sees himself as being half decent in comparison to many others. Well, we must labor & dream. Gogol was impotent, somebody in Pittsburgh told me.
I said: At what age? They couldn’t answer. That is a damned serious matter. We must work and dream for that is life. He finds out that Gogol was impotent and takes it as a serious matter, because the purpose of life is to reproduce. In his opinion, if one cannot reproduce, than what good are they. Rembrandt was sober.
There we differ. Sober. Terrors came on him. To us they come. Of suicide I continually think. Apparently he didn’t.
I’ll teach Luke. Rembrandt was sober and he is not, that is where they differ. Bad things come to Rembrandt and seek him out. To drunks, bad things just seem to come. He continually thinks of suicide, where as Rembrandt did not.
At the end he despised not to kill himself, but to go teach in his moral ways. Both John Berryman and Robert Lowell use extraordinary amounts of imagery and personal experiences to get there points across. Lowell’s use of the imagery has a tendency to put the reader in a setting with great detail. His personal expression is part of the imagery because more often that not he is describing himself. John Berryman’s use of imagery makes the reader think of instances that go on in their lives, or has the reader try to understand what the author is feeling while these things are going on. His personal life becomes the readers life, that enables the reader to understand what the writer is feeling.