Desire

Desire

by Frank Bidart
     
 

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In Frank Bidart's new collection of poems, the encounter with desire is the encounter with destiny. The first half contains some of Bidart's most luminous and intimate work: its range is as wide as its unifying theme is specific. Here are lyrics of heartbreaking directness and candor, poems that contemplate the art of writing as well as Eros, and (in a spectacular… See more details below

Overview

In Frank Bidart's new collection of poems, the encounter with desire is the encounter with destiny. The first half contains some of Bidart's most luminous and intimate work: its range is as wide as its unifying theme is specific. Here are lyrics of heartbreaking directness and candor, poems that contemplate the art of writing as well as Eros, and (in a spectacular narrative based on Tacitus) the desolations and mirror of history. The second half of the book extends the overt lyricism of the opening section into even more ambitious territory: "The Second Hour of the Night" may be Bidart's most profound and complex meditation on the illusion of will, his most seductive dramatic poem to date.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Unearthed from a dark subconscious and broadcast through classical tropes, desire, for Bidart, is not simply an emotion. It is a force ancient, long-buried and profane: "...telling those who swarm around him his desire/ is that an appendage from each of them/ fill, invade each of his orifices." There are seductions of the dead ("Don't worry I know you're dead/ but tonight// turn your face again/ toward me") and corruption of the young ("What he was doing was something I'd always// crave in later life, just as he did"). The Roman Empire, Greek and Roman mythologies and a lover's death are alluded to throughout this fifth collection, heightening a pervasive sense of tragedy. "The Second Hour of the Night" occupies more than half the book and tells of Myrrah, mother of Adonis, who slept with her father and then could bear to be neither alive nor dead. The gods respond by transforming her into a tree: "She must/ submit, lose her body to an alien/ body not chosen, as the source of ecstasy is/ not chosen." For Bidart we are helpless in the face of what we crave, and often powerless to remedy loss or resolve contradiction. A poem after Catullus reads in its entirety: "I hate andlove. The sleepless body hammering a nail nails itself, hanging crucified." (Oct.)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780374138240
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date:
10/01/1997
Pages:
61
Product dimensions:
6.32(w) x 9.31(h) x 0.46(d)

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