The Freedom of the Poet

by John Berryman. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $12.50. Reviews and essays, some not previously published, predominate in this collection of the late poet’s prose writing. Berryman was a careful, sympathetic critic and a provocative thinker who varied his approach to his subjects in order to illuminate what he considered their important aspects. The reader is therefore kept alert, shifting from a microscopic examination of the vocabulary of Macbeth to a psychological inquire into The Heart of Darkness which may, for all its sober air, be a put-on.