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Dream Song 14

Dream Song 14


by John Berryman

Dream Song 14 Theme of Man and the Natural World

While "Dream Song 14" certainly doesn't qualify as a nature poem, the natural world does play an important role in it. In fact, the connection between man and nature becomes one of the poem's central themes. Let's take a look at what Berryman is after with his "flashing" skies and "yearning" seas.

Questions About Man and the Natural World

  1. What was your initial reaction to the nature images in "Dream Song 14?" Did you picture familiar hills and seascapes, or did you picture something more unusual, something more dream-like or surreal? Why?
  2. Nature imagery only shows up in the first and last stanzas. Why do you think Berryman chose to begin and end the poem with nature imagery?
  3. What would happen to "Dream Song 14" if we took out all the nature references? Would it dramatically change how we read and understand the poem or would it simply make the poem less, well, nature-y?

Chew on This

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

Without the nature imagery, the speaker's sense of boredom in this poem would seem less far-reaching and all-consuming.

Berryman uses nature imagery to balance out the speaker's incessant (and, let's admit it: kind of unreadable) griping.

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