‘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.
I love sweets,—
would be dying on a bed of vanilla ice cream . . .
But my true self
is thin, all profile