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Dream Song 14
Dream Song 14
by John Berryman

Dream Song 14 Theme of Art and Culture

Remember that class on literary classics you couldn't stay awake in? Of course you don't. Well, the speaker of "Dream Song 14" shares your lack of enthusiasm for great literature and art (even if it makes us cry a little). He seems to know quite a bit about the stuff, but he finds it all boring. Literally all of it. Which seems impossible, right? Almost everyone knows of some books and paintings that they like. So let's take a closer look at this speaker's complete and utter distaste for all of the arts to figure out what's up here.

Questions About Art and Culture

  1. Why does the speaker have such a negative reaction to art and culture? Is there anything about the way he expresses his boredom with literature and art that strikes you as strange?
  2. If the speaker is bored by all art and all culture, is there anything left to be interested in? Can you think of anything that isn't associated with art and culture in some way?
  3. Do you get the impression that the speaker is telling the truth when he says he's bored by "great literature" (10) and "valiant art" (13)? Why or why not?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Obviously the speaker can't really hate all art, because he's voicing his boredom for the stuff in a poem.

If boredom can't be cured by experiencing a lot of great art, and having some really wacky dreams, then we're all screwed.

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