He’s still young–; thirty, but looks younger–
or does he?… In the eyes and cheeks, tonight,
turning in the mirror, he saw his mother,–
puffy; angry; bewildered… Many nights,
now, when he stares there, he gets angry:–
something unfulfilled there, something dead
to what he once thought he surely could be–
Now, just the glamour of habits…
Once, instead,
he thought insight would remake him, he’d reach
–what? The thrill, the exhilaration
unravelling disaster, that seemed to teach
necessary knowledge… became just jargon.

Sick of being decent, he craves another
crash. What reaches him except disaster?

Analysis, meaning and summary of Frank Bidart's poem Self-Portrait, 1969

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