Frank Bidart Poems

Frank Bidart (born May 27, 1939) is an American poet renowned for his originality and uncompromising approach to verse. His collections, including Golden State, The Sacrifice, and Desire, explore themes of guilt, identity, and the complexities of human experience.

Bidart’s poetry is characterized by dramatic monologues and unique typography, pushing the boundaries of poetic conventions. His work has earned him numerous accolades, including the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Bidart’s profound and introspective poetry continues to captivate readers with its raw honesty and emotional intensity.

Ellen West

by Frank Bidart

‘Ellen West’ by Frank Bidart is a long poem capturing the life-defining moments of Ellen West, a woman who was the signature case for existential analysis in the 19th century. The poem is narrated majorly by West herself, with her doctor Ludwig Binswanger intermittently rendering a clinical analysis of her behaviour.

This is one of Bidart's better-known poems. The poem was made more popular courtesy of Ricky Ian Gordon's opera adaptation in 2019. With the rise in mental health awareness and the increasing knowledge on how to treat eating disorders, Bidart's 'Ellen West' may soon well become one of Frank Bidart's classics.

I love sweets,—


would be dying on a bed of vanilla ice cream . . .

But my true self

is thin, all profile


by Frank Bidart

‘Song’ by Frank Bidart is a short poem exploring the transience of life and subtlety of death through hibernation.

Frank Bidart is the poet behind 'Song.' Although 'Song' is one of Bidart's lesser-known poems, it still explores deep philosophical themes the poet's popular poems are known for. It also carries Bidart's signature somber tone and is well-worth reading for fans of his verse.

Crawl in. Whatever for good or ill

grows within you needs

you for a time to cease to exist.

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