The Sonnets

Ted Berrigan

This book plays with repetition and deconstruction with many instances of the same lines being rearranged or placed in different contexts throughout the poems. I liked the concept, even if the poems I liked the most were the outliers that seemed to resist the collage treatment.


Each tree stands alone in stillness

After many years still nothing

The wind’s wish is the tree’s demand

The tree stands still

The wind walks up and down

Scanning the long selves of the shore

Her aimlessness is the pulse of the tree

It beats in tiny blots

Its patternless pattern of excitement

Letters         birds         beggars         books

There is no such thing as a breakdown

The tree         the ground         the wind         these are

Dear, be the tree your sleep awaits

Sensual, solid, still, swaying alone in the wind



to gentle, pleasant strains

just homely enough

to be beautiful

in the dark neighborhoods of my own sad youth

i fall in love         once

seven thousand feet over one green schoolboy summer

i dug two hundred graves

laughing, “Put away your books! Who shall speak of us

when we are gone? Let them wear scarves

in the once a day snow, crying in the kitchen

of my heart!” O my love, I will weep a less bitter truth,

till other times, making a minor repair,

a breath of cool rain in those streets

clinging together with slightly detached air.