John Berryman's 77 Dream Songs is one of the most original and disturbing works of poetry to come out of the twentieth century and still remains in a league of its own. The poems revolve around an ill-starred character named Henry and his more sinister double Mr. Bones. Berryman incorporates archaic English, slang, child-speak, blues, jazz, slant rhyme, perfect rhyme, irregular meter, off-beat rhythms, and allusions to both the mainstream and the classical. Berryman uses an unusual sonnet form (three stanzas of six lines - what Kevin Young calls the devil's sonnet) and drifts between first, second, and third person. While the poems are often humorous, absurd, and playful, 77 Dream Songs is dark, at times offensive, and ultimately tragic. You cannot read them and leave unscathed.