Driven by historical, mythic, and psychotic personae, Bidart’s oeuvre—amassed here for the first time—invites us into the mouths of monsters and bids us bend to their songs. The poet’s mentors Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Bishop whisper in the tome’s backward-glancing narratives and investigations of desire, but the parade of human psyches grinding against the strictures of empire, religion, mortality, and marriage are all Bidart’s own. This work unsettles by bonding our condition with that of the most heinous and far-fetched figures: “[E]ven the conqueror of the world / is powerless against the dead.”
There was no place in nature we could meet.
You say this as if you need me to
admit something. No place
in nature, given our natures. Or is this
warning? I say what is happening now is
happening only because one of us is
dead. You laugh and say, Or both of us!
will be weirdly jolly.
That light I now envy
exists only on this page.
posted by Gabrielle Bates