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Desire
     

Desire

by Frank Bidart
 

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Nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry.

I hate and--love. The sleepless body hammering a nail nails itself, hanging crucified.--from "Catullus: Excrucior" In Frank Bidart's 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-poems about

Overview

Nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry.

I hate and--love. The sleepless body hammering a nail nails itself, hanging crucified.--from "Catullus: Excrucior" In Frank Bidart's 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-poems about the art of writing, Eros, and the desolations and mirror of history (in a spectacular narrative based on Tacitus). The second half of the book exts 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.

Desire is a 1997 National Book Award Finalist for Poetry.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“[Desire] is insightful, disturbing, complex, personal, painstaking, and driven. Almost no poet since Robert Lowell . . . has written verse that so successfully exemplifies these qualities.” —Stephen Burt, The New Leader

“Cementing his reputation as a poet of astonishing originality, Bidart revisits classical encounters--the aftermath of a battle described by Tacitus, an incestuous romance in Ovid--and fashions them into a poetic idiom uniquely his own.” —David Lehman, People

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:
9780374525996
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date:
03/28/1999
Edition description:
1 PBK ED
Pages:
84
Product dimensions:
5.71(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.16(d)

Meet the Author

Frank Bidart's poems are collected in In the Western Night: Collected Poems 1965-90 (FSG, 1990). In 1998 he won the Bobbitt Prize and received a Lannan Literary Fellowship. He teaches at Wellesley College.

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