Winner of the National Book Award for Poetry. “This is one of the great books of poetry of this young century.”—Dan Chiasson, The New Yorker
To read David Ferry’s Bewilderment is to be reminded that poetry of the highest order can be made by the subtlest of means. The passionate nature and originality of Ferry’s prosodic daring works astonishing transformations that take your breath away. In poem after poem, his diction modulates beautifully between plainspoken high eloquence and colloquial vigor, making his distinctive speech one of the most interesting and ravishing achievements of the past half century.
Most poets write inside a very narrow range of experience and feeling, whether in free or metered verse. But Ferry’s use of meter tends to enhance the colloquial nature of his writing, while giving him access to an immense variety of feeling. Sometimes that feeling is so powerful it’s like witnessing a volcanologist taking measurements in the midst of an eruption.
Ferry’s translations, meanwhile, are amazingly acclimated English poems. Once his voice takes hold of them they are as bred in the bone as all his other work. And the translations in this book are vitally related to the original poems around them.
“These poems highlight an age-old quest for truth that leads the speaker to consider his present and past, and to translate works by Horace, Virgil, Catullus and others . . . vivid and sometimes heartbreaking.”—The Washington Post
“Astonishing—a haunted book where ghosts prove that the haunted are still alive and allow for the continuing company of literature.”—Slate
“A necessary book . . . shocking and heartbreaking.”—The Rumpus