His Toy, His Dream, His Rest continues and concludes the poem, called The Dream Songs, begun in 77 Dream Songs, which was published in 1964 and awarded the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. It is a much longer volume than the earlier one and contains 308 songs in all, starting of course with number 78.
"Some of the people who addressed themselves to 77 Dream Songs went so desperately astray," writes the author, "that I permit myself one word. The poem then, whatever its wide cast of characters, is essentially about an imaginary character (not the poet, not me) named Henry, a white American in early middle age sometimes in blackface, who has suffered an irreversible loss and talks about himself sometimes in the first person, sometimes in the third, sometimes even in the second; he has a friend, never named, who addresses him as Mr Bones and variants therof. Requiescant in pace."