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Berryman’s ‘Bones’

In response to:

Berryman: Tragedy & Comedy Together from the June 4, 2015 issue

To the Editors:

Concerning my “Berryman: Tragedy & Comedy Together” [NYR, June 4], I am grateful to the poet William Logan for informing me that “bones” in John Berryman’s “Mr. Bones” does not refer to dice. He writes:

A small correction: the end men in the minstrel show, called Mr. Tambo and Mr. Bones, played the tambourine and bone castanets, respectively. The bones aren’t dice in this instance…. I believe Tambo and Bones were sit-down comics rather than stand-up, though we don’t know as much as we’d like about the actual performances.

Helen Vendler
Cambridge, Massachusetts