Ron Padgett on Berrigan's The Sonnets

The Sonnets:  Ted Berrigan:  C Press:  $1

My dream is to have a drink with the people who wrote these poems.  They mean “something.”  They mean to me what night letters from everyone I have ever known would mean to me.  Perhaps I weep too much.  Still, if you want your life to change, change your shirt the same way you must read from line to line, sonnet to sonnet, and line to sonnet, because many people, when reading these poems, all roar.

The romance of these poems is overwhelming and of course it rains often in them outside the author’s room in his head.  In these sonnets the world in its mysteries is explained and at last extinct!

Santa Claus wrote this book as a technical journal and then walked out and looked for you.  You made it hard to write.  That’s probably why there this excitement to be all of night, and seeming wide night.  Perhaps this is our one chance to have a big drink of waterbugs.  Fortunately, Guillaume is dead.

Either these poems are feminine marvelous and tough or I am feminine marvelous and tough when I read them on the site of Benedict Arnold’s triumph, Ticonderoga.  It hurts.  Au revoir, scene!  I am forced to write “au revoir,” when I mean “my hands make love to my body when my arms are around you.”  But no rivers of annoyance undermine the arrangements, for they are present as a breakdown of Juan Gris.

The Sonnets is a dream as variously as possible.  It lives by its teeth, the most elegant present I could get.  The grace and clarity of these poems turn into writing in my skin.  Except at night, the only major statement of a blue shirt, such as “these sonnets are an homage to myself, Benjamin Franklin.”
When I first read these poems I had a birthday, got married and told a joke.  What else, imitations of Shakespeare?  Who can say no to it later?  Do I even understand the dark trance of these sonnets?  No, for they are present.  Trains go by and they are trains, alone in stillness, the code for the west.  Any syntactical error of goodbye honors gunfire by Max Jacob.  She had a great toe!  It hurts on the 15th day of November.  But then, a hurting toe is worth at least more or less one apple belly stride toward the sofa of wide melancholy. What these sonnets unclench shall increase from this, returning past the houses he has passed.

                                                                                                            Ron Padgett


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