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Frank Bidart

Frank Bidart

Frank Bidart's most recent full-length collections of poetry are Metaphysical Dog (2013), Watching the Spring Festival (2008), Star Dust (2005), Desire (1997) and In the Western Night: Collected Poems, 1965-1990, all from Farrar, Straus and Giroux. He has won many prizes, including the Wallace Stevens Award and, most recently, the 2007 Bolingen Prize for American Poetry. He teaches at Wellesley College and lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

from The Fourth Hour Of The Night

Out of scarcity,—
. . .being.

Because, when you were eight, your father

was murdered,

Because the traveler was betrayed by those with

whom he had the right to seek
refuge, the Tatars.

Because the universe then allowed a creature

stronger, taller, more
ruthless than you

to fasten around your neck a thick wooden wheel

to throw off.

Because at eight your cunning was not equal

to iron-fastened
immense wood.

Because at fourteen the slave outwitted the universe,

tore the wheel from his neck:—
because your neck

carries it still, Scarcity is the mother of being.


Hour in which betrayal and slavery
are the great teachers.

Hour in which acquisition

looks like, and for
a moment is, safety.

Hour in which the earth, looking into

a mirror, names what it sees
by the history of weapons.

Hour from which I cannot wake.


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