Dish poetry editor Alice Quinn writes in about this weekend’s poems:
Frank Bidart, the author of seven previous and highly regarded collections of poems and the co-editor of the monumental edition of The Collected Poems of Robert Lowell, has just published a new book of poems, Metaphysical Dog, nominated this week for the National Book Award. His work has a visceral power and gravitas that summons up George Herbert’s poems addressed to God (“Now I am here, what thou wilt do with me/ None of my books will show.”)
In an interview from 1999, he addressed the nature of his artistic values, saying “There has come to be astonishing sophistication in producing an armored self on paper—in a way that makes the poems that were ‘armored’ twenty years ago look positively candid and naïve. And I think it’s a trap…Frost says, quoting Horace, ‘No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.’…The fact is, you cannot get through life without putting your life on the line! There’s no other, no ‘safe’ way to live.”
Today and over the weekend, we’ll feature poems from his arresting and very moving new book, beginning with “Against Rage”:
He had not been denied the world. Terrible
scenes that he clung to because they taught him
the world will at last be buried with him.
As well as the exhilarations. Now,
he thinks each new one will be the last one.
The last new page. The last sex. Each human
being’s story, he tells nobody, is a boat
cutting through the night. As starless blackness
approaches, the soul reverses itself, in
the eerie acceptance of finitude.