Desire

Frank Bidart, Author
Frank Bidart, Author Farrar Straus Giroux $20 (64p) ISBN 978-0-374-13824-0
Reviewed on: 09/29/1997
Release date: 10/01/1997
Paperback - 61 pages - 978-0-374-52599-6
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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 and--love. The sleepless body hammering a nail nails itself, hanging crucified."" (Oct.)
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