Books: The Last Prayers

DELUSIONS, ETC. byJOHN BERRYMAN 69 pages. Farrar, Straus & Giroux.


These are the last poems of a major American poet who killed himself in January by jumping from a bridge over the Mississippi. In some ways his suicide at 57 made no sense. In recent years he finally achieved some of the fame, honors and money he deserved, and he appeared to enjoy them. Among people, he was an ebullient man with a trumpeting voice and a long, bushy beard—generous, energetic, brash. But he suffered acutely from alcoholism and remorse over what he considered a messy, misspent life. He did not forgive...

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