Matthews knew the dangers inherent in narrative, as spelled out in another Curiosities essay, “Dishonesty and Bad Manners”: “Things happen consecutively in narrative that happen simultaneously in psychic life, and there are many critics and poets who prefer the experience of consecutive time to simultaneous time because it makes moral discourse easier, and because causality and guilt are easier to assert as religious or quasi-religious principles in narrative than in any of the many other experiences of time.” His dream was for an upshot of psychic immediacy in the course of a riff, a disruption of the poem’s official time zone.
via on New Hope for the Dead: Uncollected William Matthews, ed. by Sebastian Matthews and Stanley Plumly (Red Hen Press) | On the Seawall: A Literary Website by Ron Slate (GD).
John Berryman envisioned his Dream Songs poems to wed “gravity of matter” and “gaiety of manner.” It’s apparently in his notebooks, but I only came across it when I read David Wojahn’s essay on Berryman. I originally just wanted to quote the passage, but this has become a surprising bit of self-examination of my own poetic project at this point in time.
Anyway, Wojahn didn’t write it though, as he quotes from Paul Mariani’s Dream Song: The Life of John Berryman. Mariani, of course, quotes from Berryman himself, and to further the cycle here I am quoting the entire passage Wojahn quoted from Mariani who quoted Berryman himself: