In this sense Williams is a presiding presence for Berry’s Collected Poems 1957–1982, although its most achieved poems, formally, differ from Williams’s in being occasional. That is, their occasions—a tree planting, a dance, a graveyard, the fear of love, an anniversary—open the experience that evoked them into a ceremonial dimension of recurrence whose formal traditions, like ethnobotany’s, are shaped by many minds to channel perennial understandings. This can either overwhelm and falsify the poetry with preconceptions, or lift it into the light of the form evoked. All Berry’s poems to Tanya—taken together, an incomparable poetry of married love—stand in this perennial light. His Vietnam War poems survive (like Robert Duncan’s) by balancing the gravity of their matter against the evoked weight and pressures of formal tradition.
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