Just Because I Like John Berryman\
Two Stanzas from Eleven Addresses to the Lord
By John Berryman
Master of beauty, craftsman of the snowflake,
endower of Earth so gorgeous & different from the boring Moon,
thank you for such as it is my gift.
I have made up a morning prayer to you
containing with precision everything that most matters.
'According to Thy will' the thing begins.
It took me off & on two days. It does not aim at eloquence.
You have come to my rescue again & again
in my impassable, sometimes despairing years.
You have allowed my brilliant friends to destroy themselves
and I am still here, severely damaged, but functioning.
Unknowable, as I am unknown to my guinea pigs:
how can I 'love' you?
I only as far as gratitude & awe
confidently & absolutely go.
I have no idea whether we live again.
It doesn't seem likely
from either the scientific or the philosophical point of view
but certainly all things are possible to you,
and I believe as fixedly in the Resurrection-appearances to Peter and to Paul
as I believe I sit in this blue chair.
Only that may have been a special case
to establish their initiatory faith.
Sole watchman of the flying stars, guard me
against my flicker of impulse lust: teach me
to see them as sisters & daughters. Sustain
my grand endeavours: husbandship & crafting.
Forsake me not when my wild hours come;
grant me sleep nightly, grace soften my dreams;
achieve in me patience till the thing be done,
a careful view of my achievement come.
Make me from time to time the gift of the shoulder.
When all hurt nerves whine shut away the whiskey.
Empty my heart toward Thee.
Let me pace without fear the common path of death.
Cross am I sometimes with my little daughter:
fill her eyes with tears: Forgive me, Lord.
Unite my various soul,
sole watchman of the wide & single stars.
John Berryman was elected a Fellow of The Academy of American Poets in 1966 and served as a Chancellor from 1968 until his death.