- John Berryman ['The Art of Poetry XVI' Paris Review, winter 1972]
Thursday, August 5, 2010
the worst possible ordeal
"I have . . . a feeling that endowment is a very small part of achievement. I would rate it about fifteen or twenty percent. Then you have historical luck, personal luck, health, things like that, then you have hard work, sweat. And you have ambition. . . . I do feel strongly that among the greatest pieces of luck for high achievement is ordeal. . . . My idea is this: the artist is extremely lucky who is presented with the worst possible ordeal which will not actually kill him"