Frank Bidart’s Confessional


Here is Frank Bidart’s long poem Confessional. It employs a layered composition of first person narrative and extended quotation from Augustine’s Confession. It is at once alienated and intimate, appealing to the mind and heart as a grown son works through his grief and anguished conscience after his mother’s recent passing, with a mysterious confessor who needs the first lessons of faith taught to him.

Three Poems by Seamus Heaney


These Three Poems by Seamus Heaney are given in the order of their publication, with one each drawn from his first three books. (I’m reading Opened Ground now, a volume of selected works that came out after he won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995.)

Heaney has an incredible sense of sound, making each word count and turning every short line into a pleasure. It is interesting how Heaney seems to approach his early poems (the first two volumes) with so much humility, focusing on observation of his environment, and writing with ready material, especially of his childhood, without hype or grandiosity.


Marianne Moore’s The Fish


Moore was very stoical and firm in life, but if she held out the joy she displays in poetry in some physical craft she would have made a marvelous and playful dancer.

The Fish

through black jade.
       Of the crow-blue mussel-shells, one keeps
       adjusting the ash-heaps;
              opening and shutting itself like

injured fan.
       The barnacles which encrust the side
       of the wave, cannot hide
              there for the submerged shafts of the

split like spun
       glass, move themselves with spotlight swiftness
       into the crevices—
              in and out, illuminating

turquoise sea
       of bodies. The water drives a wedge
       of iron through the iron edge
              of the cliff; whereupon the stars,

rice-grains, ink-
       bespattered jelly fish, crabs like green
       lilies, and submarine
              toadstools, slide each on the other.

       marks of abuse are present on this
       defiant edifice—
              all the physical features of
       of cornice, dynamite grooves, burns, and
       hatchet strokes, these things stand
              out on it; the chasm-side is

       evidence has proved that it can live
       on what can not revive
              its youth. The sea grows old in it.