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The Ball Poem
John Berryman
What is the boy now, who has lost his ball.
What, what is he to do? I saw it go
Merrily bouncing, down the street, and then
Merrily over—there it is in the water!
No use to say 'O there are other balls':
An ultimate shaking grief fixes the boy
As he stands rigid, trembling, staring down
All his young days into the harbour where
His ball went. I would not intrude on him,
A dime, another ball, is worthless. Now
He senses first responsibility
In a world of possessions. People will take balls,
Balls will be lost always, little boy,
And no one buys a ball back. Money is external.
He is learning, well behind his desperate eyes,
The epistemology of loss, how to stand up
Speaker: John Berryman
• Born in McAlester, Oklahoma
• October 25, 1914 - January 7,
1972
• Best known for the Dream Songs
• Suffered a great loss at 11 when
his father shot himself in front of
him
• Jumped off the bridge in 1972, at
the age of 57
• Was awarded with Pulitzer prize for
poetry & National book award for
poetry
Theme
John Berryman’s poetry “The Ball Poem” has childhood, grief,
and the search for innocence as its themes. The poem also deals
with the theme of loss and suffering. It explores the themes of
loss, growing up and transformation of an individual with a small
incident which transformed the boy and even led him to learn
important lessons such as the importance of coping with the loss
of things that money can’t buy and moving ahead in life.
No rhyming scheme. Poem is
written in free verse.
Rhyming Scheme
What is the boy now, who has
lost his ball.
What, what is he to do? I saw
it go
Merrily bouncing, down the
street, and then
Merrily over—there it is in
the water!
• The grief stricken
boy due to loss of
ball
• Ball bouncing away
merrily
• merrily- happily
Stanza 1
No use to say 'O there are other
balls':
An ultimate shaking grief fixes
the boy
As he stands rigid, trembling,
staring down
All his young days into the
harbour where
His ball went.
• Ball symbolizing his Childhood
innocence & young days
• Boy feeling helpless
• Boy trembles because of grief
• Poetic device in 2nd line-
Transferred epithet
• shaking grief- sadness which
greatly affects the boy
• harbour - (here represents)
vastness of life
Stanza 2
I would not intrude on him,
A dime, another ball, is
worthless. Now
He senses first responsibility
In a world of possessions. People
will take balls,
Balls will be lost always, little
boy,
• Poet prefers not to interfere
• Loss of ball teaches a lesson to
boy
• Loss is a part of life
• Intrude- interfere
• a dime- ten cents (U.S.)
Stanza 3
And no one buys a ball back. Money is
external.
He is learning, well behind his
desperate eyes,
The epistemology of loss, how to stand
up
Knowing what every man must one day
know
And most know many days, how to
stand up
• Money can replace things but can
not buy the original one.
• epistemology of loss-
understanding the nature of loss
• Lessons learnt by boy-
• how to cope up with loss
• stand up to move on
Stanza 4
Literary
devices
a) alliteration
b) transferred
epithet
c) repetition
d) symbolism
Literary
devices
e) personification
f) anaphora
g) emjambment
• Balls, balls will be lost always
• and no one buys a ball back
Alliteration
• shaking grief
(here, it is not the grief that shakes but the boy)
Transferred Apithet
• what, what is he to do?
• Balls, balls will be lost always, little boy.
• Knowing what every man must one day know
and most know many days, how to stand up
• The epistemology of loss, how to stand up
Knowing what every man must one day know
And most know many days, how to stand up
Repitition
• Ball used a symbol of the possessions a
person may have & the childhood innocence
of the boy.
Symbolism
• merrily bouncing down the street
Personification
• What is the boy now, who has lost his ball,
what, what is he to do? I saw it go
• Merrily bouncing down the street, and then
Merrily over- there it is in he water!
Anaphora
Presentation by
Neha

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The Ball Poem- John Berryman_20240518_001617_0000.pptx

  • 2. What is the boy now, who has lost his ball. What, what is he to do? I saw it go Merrily bouncing, down the street, and then Merrily over—there it is in the water! No use to say 'O there are other balls': An ultimate shaking grief fixes the boy As he stands rigid, trembling, staring down All his young days into the harbour where His ball went. I would not intrude on him, A dime, another ball, is worthless. Now He senses first responsibility In a world of possessions. People will take balls, Balls will be lost always, little boy, And no one buys a ball back. Money is external. He is learning, well behind his desperate eyes, The epistemology of loss, how to stand up
  • 3. Speaker: John Berryman • Born in McAlester, Oklahoma • October 25, 1914 - January 7, 1972 • Best known for the Dream Songs • Suffered a great loss at 11 when his father shot himself in front of him • Jumped off the bridge in 1972, at the age of 57 • Was awarded with Pulitzer prize for poetry & National book award for poetry
  • 4. Theme John Berryman’s poetry “The Ball Poem” has childhood, grief, and the search for innocence as its themes. The poem also deals with the theme of loss and suffering. It explores the themes of loss, growing up and transformation of an individual with a small incident which transformed the boy and even led him to learn important lessons such as the importance of coping with the loss of things that money can’t buy and moving ahead in life.
  • 5. No rhyming scheme. Poem is written in free verse. Rhyming Scheme
  • 6. What is the boy now, who has lost his ball. What, what is he to do? I saw it go Merrily bouncing, down the street, and then Merrily over—there it is in the water! • The grief stricken boy due to loss of ball • Ball bouncing away merrily • merrily- happily Stanza 1
  • 7. No use to say 'O there are other balls': An ultimate shaking grief fixes the boy As he stands rigid, trembling, staring down All his young days into the harbour where His ball went. • Ball symbolizing his Childhood innocence & young days • Boy feeling helpless • Boy trembles because of grief • Poetic device in 2nd line- Transferred epithet • shaking grief- sadness which greatly affects the boy • harbour - (here represents) vastness of life Stanza 2
  • 8. I would not intrude on him, A dime, another ball, is worthless. Now He senses first responsibility In a world of possessions. People will take balls, Balls will be lost always, little boy, • Poet prefers not to interfere • Loss of ball teaches a lesson to boy • Loss is a part of life • Intrude- interfere • a dime- ten cents (U.S.) Stanza 3
  • 9. And no one buys a ball back. Money is external. He is learning, well behind his desperate eyes, The epistemology of loss, how to stand up Knowing what every man must one day know And most know many days, how to stand up • Money can replace things but can not buy the original one. • epistemology of loss- understanding the nature of loss • Lessons learnt by boy- • how to cope up with loss • stand up to move on Stanza 4
  • 12. • Balls, balls will be lost always • and no one buys a ball back Alliteration
  • 13. • shaking grief (here, it is not the grief that shakes but the boy) Transferred Apithet
  • 14. • what, what is he to do? • Balls, balls will be lost always, little boy. • Knowing what every man must one day know and most know many days, how to stand up • The epistemology of loss, how to stand up Knowing what every man must one day know And most know many days, how to stand up Repitition
  • 15. • Ball used a symbol of the possessions a person may have & the childhood innocence of the boy. Symbolism
  • 16. • merrily bouncing down the street Personification
  • 17. • What is the boy now, who has lost his ball, what, what is he to do? I saw it go • Merrily bouncing down the street, and then Merrily over- there it is in he water! Anaphora

Editor's Notes

  1. 1.7.2013