Louise Gluck on Frank Bidart
“The ambition of passion is to replicate the drama of Eden. Or, that drama was invented to explain the drive of two beings toward an animal pact of shared isolation, the drive to make of the body a souvenir or proof of the event.
The poem begins and ends in bondage, the smaller bondage of individual life contained within the larger bondage of the species, the first (apparently) caused by, cemented by, the cat’s death”
Did you forgive her?... For years she dreamed the cat had dug its claws into her thumbs:— in the dream, she knew, somehow, that it was dying; she tried to help it,— TO PUT IT OUT OF ITS MISERY,— so she had her hands around its neck, strangling it… Bewildered, it looked at her, KNOWING SHE LOVED IT— “Catullus: Odi et Amo” I hate and love. Ignorant fish, who even wants the fly while writhing. “Catullus: Excrucior [I am tormented]” I hate and—love. The sleepless body hammering a nail nails itself, hanging crucified. “Catullus: Id Faciam [May I do it]” What I hate I love. Ask the crucified hand that holds the nail that now is driven into itself, why. -Frank Bidart