Berrigan, Daniel (J.)

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BERRIGAN, Daniel (J.)

Nationality: American. Born: Virginia, Minnesota, 9 May 1921. Education: Woodstock College, Baltimore, Maryland, 1943–46; Weston (Jesuit) Seminary, Massachusetts: ordained Roman Catholic priest, 1952. Career: Teacher of French, English, and Latin, St. Peter's Preparatory School, Jersey City, New Jersey, 1945–49; performed ministerial work in Europe, 1953–54; auxiliary military chaplain, 1954; instructor in French and philosophy, Brooklyn Preparatory School, 1954–57; teacher of New Testament Studies, LeMoyne College, Syracuse, New York, 1957–63; assistant editor, Jesuit Missions, New York, 1963–65; director of United Christian Work, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, 1967–68; jailed for anti-war activities, 1968. From 1972 professor of theology, Woodstock College, New York. Visiting lecturer, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, 1973; University of Detroit, 1975; University of California, Berkeley, 1976; Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, 1977; Loyola University, New Orleans, Louisiana, 1988; DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois, 1992, 1994; and Colorado College, Colorado Springs, 1993, 1995. Awards: Lamont Poetry Selection award, 1957; Thomas More Association Medal, 1970; Melcher Book award, 1971. Address: 220 West 98th Street, Number 7J, New York 10025, U.S.A.



Time without Number. New York, Macmillan, 1957.

Encounters. Cleveland, World, 1960.

The World for Wedding Ring. New York, Macmillan. 1962.

No One Walks Waters. New York, Macmillan, 1966.

False Gods, Real Men: New Poems. New York, Macmillan, 1966.

Love, Love at the End: Parables, Prayers, and Meditations. New York, Macmillan, 1968.

Night Flight to Hanoi: War Diary with 11 Poems. New York, Macmillan, 1968.

Crime Trial. Boston, Impressions Workshop, 1970.

Trial Poems. Boston, Beacon Press, 1970.

Selected and New Poems. New York, Doubleday, 1973.

Prison Poems. Greensboro, North Carolina, Unicorn Press, 1973.

Prison Poems. New York, Viking Press, 1974.

May All Creatures Live. Nevada City, California, Harold Berliner Press, 1984.

Block Island. Greensboro, North Carolina, Unicorn Press, 1985.

Lost & Found. Montclair, New Jersey, Caliban Press, 1989.

Jubilee! 1939–1989: Fifty Years a Jesuit. Greensboro, North Carolina, Unicorn Press, 1990.

Tulips in the Prison Yard: Selected Poems of Daniel Berrigan. Dublin, Ireland, Dedalus Press, 1992.

Homage to Gerard Manley Hopkins. Baltimore, Maryland, Fortcamp Press, 1993.

Minor Prophets Major Themes. Marion, South Dakota, Fortkamp, 1995.

And the Risen Bread: Selected Poems, 1957–1997, edited by John Dear New York, Fordham University Press, 1998.

Recordings: America Is Hard to Find, Cornell University, 1970; Berrigan Raps, Caedmon, 1972; Not Letting Me Not Let Blood: Prison Poems, National Catholic Reporter, 1976.


The Trial of the Catonsville Nine (produced Los Angeles, 1970; New York and London, 1971). Boston, Beacon Press, 1970.


The Bride: Essays in the Church. New York, Macmillan, 1959.

The Bow in the Clouds: Man's Covenant with God. New York, Coward McCann, and London, Burns Oates, 1961.

They Call Us Dead Men: Reflections on Life and Conscience. New York, Macmillan, 1966.

Consequences: Truth and&. New York, Macmillan, and London, Collier Macmillan, 1967.

Go from Here: A Prison Diary (includes verse). San Francisco, Open Space, 1968.

No Bars to Manhood. New York, Doubleday, 1970.

The Dark Night of Resistance. New York, Doubleday, 1971.

The Geography of Faith: Conversations between Daniel Berrigan, When Underground, and Robert Coles. Boston, Beacon Press, 1971.

Absurd Convictions, Modest Hopes: Conversations after Prison with Lee Lockwood. New York, Random House, 1972.

America Is Hard to Find. New York, Doubleday, 1972; London, SPCK, 1973.

Jesus Christ. New York, Doubleday, 1973.

Vietnamese Letter. New York, Hoa Binh Press, 1973.

Lights On in the House of the Dead: A Prison Diary. New York, Doubleday, 1974.

The Raft Is Not the Shore: Conversations toward a Buddhist/Christian Awareness, with Thich Nhat Hanh. Boston, Beacon Press, 1975.

A Book of Parables. New York, Seabury Press, 1977.

Uncommon Prayer: A Book of Psalms. New York, Seabury Press, 1978.

The Words Our Savior Gave Us. Springfield, Illinois, Templegate, 1978.

Beside the Sea of Glass: The Song of the Lamb. New York, Seabury Press, 1978.

The Discipline of the Mountain: Dante's Purgatorio in a Nuclear World. New York, Seabury Press, 1979.

We Die before We Live: Conversations with the Very Ill. New York, Seabury Press, 1980.

Ten Commandments for the Long Haul. New York, Seabury Press, 1981.

Portraits of Those I Love. New York, Crossroad, 1982.

The Nightmare of God. Portland, Sunburst, 1983.

Steadfastness of the Saints: A Journal of Peace and War in Central and North America. Mary Knoll, New York, Orbis, 1985.

The Mission: A Film Journal. New York, Harper, 1986.

To Dwell in Peace (autobiography). New York, Harper, 1987.

The Hole in the Ground: A Parable for Peacemakers. Minneapolis, Minnesota, Honeywell Project, 1987.

Daniel Berrigan: Poetry, Drama, Prose, edited by Michael True. Mary Knoll, New York, Orbis, 1988.

Stations: The Way of the Cross. New York, Harper, 1989.

Sorrow Built a Bridge: Friendship and AIDS. Baltimore, Maryland, Fortkamp Publishing, 1989.

Whereon to Stand: The Acts of the Apostles and Ourselves. Baltimore, Maryland, Fortkamp Publishing, 1991.

Selections from the Writings of Daniel Berrigan. Erie, Pennsylvania, Pax Christi, 1991.

Isaiah: Spirit of Courage, Gift of Tears. Minneapolis, Minnesota, Fortress Press, 1996.

Ezekiel: Vision in the Dust. Maryknoll, New York, Orbis Books, 1997.

Daniel, under the Siege of the Divine. Farmington, Pennsylvania, Plough Publishing, 1998.

Jeremiah: The World, the Wound of God. Minneapolis, Minnesota, Fortress Press, 1999.

The Bride: Images of the Church. Maryknoll, New York, Orbis Books, 2000.

Editor, For Swords into Plowshares, The Hammer Has to Fall: The Griffiss Plowshares Action. Piscatoway, New Jersey, Plowshares, 1984.


Bibliography: The Berrigans: A Bibliography of Published Works by Daniel, Philip, and Elizabeth McAlister Berrigan by Anne Klejment, New York, Garland, 1980.

Critical Studies: Apologies, Good Friends&: An Interim Biography of Daniel Berrigan by John Deedy, Chicago, Fides Claretian, 1981; The Writings of Daniel Berrigan by Ross Labrie, Lanham, Maryland, American University Press, 1989; Apostle of Peace: Essays in Honor of Daniel Berrigan, Maryknoll, New York, Orbis Books, 1996; interview by Mark Wagner, Agni, 43, 1996.

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In spite of his Jesuit training, there is little in Daniel Berrigan's poetry to suggest Gerard Manley Hopkins as a model. Reading the imprimaturs and the nihil obstats on the early volumes is surprising to the reader who has come to Berrigan from his later work, where such marks of orthodoxy are so conspicuously absent, perhaps even unavailable. Hopkins was probably too abstractly theological to be a model for Berrigan's taste. Berrigan's early poems have more the feel of seventeenth-century English devotional verse. His references to Simone Weil suggest an indebtedness to her favorite poet among the English writers—George Herbert.

The early volumes brought quick success to Berrigan as a poet:

   envelopes a flower like its odor;
   bestows on radiant air
   the spontaneous word that greets and makes a king.

It is interesting that an early poem addressed to Wallace Stevens accepts the techniques but repudiates the metaphysics that was a part of the Stevens aesthetic:

   When I grew appalled by love
   and promised nothing, but stood, a sick man
   first time on feeble knees
   peering at walls and weather
   like the feeble minded—
   the strange outdoors, the house of strangers—
   there, there was a beginning.

But even the early poems were dedicated to Dorothy Day, the quiet figure so central to the life of radical Catholicism in America. In their introductions they intone beata pauperes spiritu and beata pacifici, and Berrigan was to take the words seriously.

Berrigan's opposition to the Vietnam War led him to found Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam. This ecumenical action so enraged Cardinal Spellman that he exiled Berrigan to South America, a move that proved so unpopular that the cardinal was quickly forced to rescind the action. But the tour through South America—the response to the appalling poverty he saw there—brought Berrigan back to the United States a convinced religious radical. Consequences: Truth and. & is the record of his spiritual and political development during the period.

A post as professor of religion and poetry at Cornell University did not dampen Berrigan's growing involvement with his brother Philip in active opposition to the war. Pouring blood on draft files led to the burning of draft files in Catonsville, Maryland. As he turned increasingly to direct action, Berrigan also turned to prose, his poetry being used to focus his personal reaction to the events he experienced. In Night Flight to Hanoi he wrote of holding one child saved from bombing:

   Children in the Shelter
   Imagine; three of them.
   As though survival
   were a rat's word.
   and a rat's end
   waited there at the end
   And I must have
   in the century's boneyard
   heft of flesh and bone in my arms
   I picked up the littlest
   a boy, his face
   breaded with rice (his sister calmly feeding him
   as we climbed down)
   In my arms fathered
   in a moment's grace, the messiah
   of all my tears. I bore, reborn
   a Hiroshima child from hell.

The play The Trial of the Catonsville Nine brought Berrigan worldwide attention, and his prison journals were among the eloquent publications of the last years of the 1960s. The Dark Night of Resistance, also published during the period, illustrated the growing influence on Berrigan of Saint John of the Cross, who was read in the 1950s by poets influenced by the religious revival of the time. One has a sense that Berrigan came to understand John in the late 1960s, that he found the saint in his prison experience a model to be lived rather than a style to be imitated.

Berrigan has remained a Roman Catholic and a Jesuit. He has become less active in writing poetry and more active in building a society that can be honestly celebrated in poetry. Despite the serious moral and political issues he forced through his personal involvement, there remains throughout his poetry a sustained joyousness, a marked characteristic of all his work.

—Myron Taylor