Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Bewilderment: New Poems and Translations” as Want to Read:
Bewilderment: New Poems and Translations
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Bewilderment: New Poems and Translations

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  257 ratings  ·  36 reviews
Winner of the 2012 National Book Award for Poetry.

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
Paperback, 115 pages
Published September 14th 2012 by University of Chicago Press (first published January 1st 2012)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Bewilderment, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Bewilderment

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.85  · 
Rating details
 ·  257 ratings  ·  36 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Jul 03, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry-authors
If you are one of those people who complain about modern poetry, this is the book that should provide you with plenty of ammunition. About halfway through, my tongue began to slip out of my mouth, drool dribbled out onto a page, and I jumped up shouting, "I'm awake! I'm awake!" Fortunately, no one was around to witness that one.

I am sure Mr. Ferry was a great teacher at Wellesley College. You know the place where peons have to bow down with cries of "I am not worthy!" Actually, Mr. Ferry was no
Dec 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I did not know this was a book of poetry when I ordered it. It was on someone’s very interesting list of “Best Books of 2012” and I thought I’d heard the name of David Ferry, but I couldn’t remember where. On Christmas morning, I rose much earlier than everyone else and felt I’d received a very special gift when I pulled out this slim volume to read with my coffee. Then I remembered where I’d seen his name: on the most popular translation of Gilgamesh at my local bookstore.

David Ferry is a learn
Apr 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
David Ferry was born in 1924. Having retired after a long career as professor of English at Wellesley College in 1989, he has continued his work as a translator and poet, publishing this, his most recent poetry collection, in 2012. His wife, the literary scholar Anne Ferry, to whom he was married for 48 years, died in 2006. Ferry’s recent poetry has been in part a retrospective of his life and in part a continuing reflection on love and loss, focused on the person of Anne and on their relationsh ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I know who David Ferry is, and I wish I could connect more with the poems in this book. A one sentence review would be "Decent, but not my thing."

I think the moment that explained to me why I couldn't came in his response poems to Arthur Gold, where I connected immediately with the AG poems and less so with the DF responses.

The new translations of several classic works were nicely done, and were highlights for me.

A few other favorite moments:
In the Reading Room, online at the Poetry Foundatio
Nov 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
David Ferry was my best teacher (and the only one of whom I remember a specific lesson) so I am thrilled that he won the National Book Award for poetry with this volume. It is brilliant (in its use of varied metrical schemes and delightfully surprising word use) and sad (in its obvious records of present loss and coming loss). In order, I liked best the poems of personal experience, then the poems in reaction to others' work (Mozart, Arthur Gold, etc.) and then the lively translations. In some p ...more
Nov 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is a fair collection of poetry, with glimpses of brilliance, but the greatest thing about this book is the collection itself: assembling ancient poetry centered around themes of familial loss, rendering it in modern verse, and then weaving a light narrative with original poems interlaced between passages from the Bible and the Aeneid is fantastically charming. This must be the best poetry collection of 2012.
Aseem Kaul
Mar 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
"How many bards gild the lapses of time!", John Keats writes, "But no confusion, no disturbance rude / Do they occasion; 'tis a pleasing chime. So the unnumbered sounds that evening store; / the songs of birds - the whispering of the leaves - / the voice of waters - the great bell that heaves / with solemn sound - and thousand others more / that distance of recognizance bereaves, / make pleasing music, and not wild uproar."

That sense of sad harmony pervades David Ferry's sublime new collection,
Apr 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
One of the best new collections of poetry I've read in years. It's so nice that Ferry is not only capable of impressive translations (Cavafy, Virgil), but that he can blend in those great old sentiments with his own. There's nothing better than a poet who is keenly aware of classical forms but has matured and relaxed to the point that he uses the forms (and sometimes defies them) rather than vice versa. These are grown up poems, made to illuminate rather than dazzle.

from the Latin of Catullus:

Dec 16, 2012 rated it liked it
I was really intrigued by the way Ferry arranges his poems, so that one poem by Fery responds to or analyzes another poem, either one he has translated here (from Virgil, for example) or else a poem by his friend (?) Arthur Gold that he packs into his own poem. In essence, Ferry's poems are often sort of poetic essays, reading and interpreting the poems he is talking about, and he finds intriguing dimensions in the poems that I hadn't considered before. So, as a thinker about poetry, Ferry has a ...more
Nov 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing

I’m lured and charmed and made happy by Ferry’s willing self-deprecation. And by his musical ear. And his ability to play out a line of thought further and further…and further, then bring me up short with an unexpected, snappy closure. I like his responses to the old masters like Catullus and not so old masters like Arthur Gold. That he has a live relation to our poet forebears, a relation that flourishes in the 21st century, amazes and charms me. BEWILDERMENT offers us great handfuls of energy,
Apr 17, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
Favorites: "In the Reading Room"; "The Late-Hour Poem"; "Virgil, Aeneid VI, Lines 719-61"; "To Where"; "The Birds"
Jan 12, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
With the exception on one or two, his poems were boring and trivial. But I did enjoy the translations, especially Virgil and Rilke. I appreciate the collection as a whole, he just isn't my style.
Jan 24, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: year-2013
This book won the 2012 National Book Award for poetry. I'm beginning to realize that all awards are subjective. It was an okay book but I wasn't blown away.
Patricia McLaughlin
Jun 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
A connoisseur of the word—master of Mesopotamian, Greek and Latin translation, the grief-stricken plaint—and at times, utterly “dislanguaged.”

From “Reading Arthur Gold’s Poem ‘Rome, December 1973’”:
“Just as all others whom we love are Fates,
With whom we share our darkness journey toward
A forgotten destination not yet known.”

From “Lake Water”:
“When, moments after she died, I looked into her face,
It was as untelling as something natural,
A lake, say, the surface unreadable,
Its source of meaning unf
Robert Risher
Jul 07, 2017 rated it it was ok
It's difficult for me to be critical of this book, because I just...didn't...get it. There were a few poems that I enjoyed, but overall, it's lack of traditional elements of poetry left it hard to handle for me. I can't say it was bad. It just wasn't for me. And that's ok.
Lynsy • Little Book Jockey
I felt that the translations took away from the original poems. I found myself comparing Virgil's and Ferry's words and styles.

Read the review on my blog here.
Dec 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I just finished this, and quite frankly am feeling wiped out by its expressions of loneliness and isolation, which I recognize all too well. Especially at this moment of my life. Perhaps it was not the best thing to read. But I can't stop recommending it. Moment after moment of beauty, profound humanity, connection, alienation, dignity, love, admiration, sadness, the timelessness of specificity, the nobility of the human need to share and weep, lament and mourn. Futility and dignity. I'm babblin ...more
Jul 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
David Ferry is a gifted genius of a poet (and translator). This collection was exquisite, and I am now enamoured with his verse. Ferry's melancholic tone and empathetic eye challenge the reader to acknowledge what we all know but rarely address: life is fleeting - often nonsensical - filled with beauty, riddled with narcissists, and awaiting exploration. I loved this collection, and although I felt grounded in my own recognition of mortality all around, from flower to friend to family to me, Fer ...more
Jan 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I read before bed every night, and reading this collection was a lovely way to end the day. The problem was I felt compelled to disrupt my comfort repeatedly to copy lines onto paper (can't write in a library book).

I found the mix of translations, poems, and responses to poems (includes the original in the text) to be such a treat. The translations were amazing. This is the Virgil (etc.) we should learn as students.

The juxtaposition of poems was powerful. Word choice and language were masterfu
Feb 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: serious readers of poetry
Recommended to Bekristl by: it recommended itself.
Shelves: will-read-again
Absolutely magnificent. It seems that David Ferry has effortlessly woven passages from Virgil and Horace with his own quiet, understated, but so very powerful, verse. This is not Garrison Keillor's poetry - most of us need to read it again and again because you will hear and feel it differently every time. Ferry's poetry has always been sublime, but taken with carefully selected passages from his own translations of the classics, there are no words for it. I am entirely dislanguaged.
Feb 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Some of the poems in here were interesting and engaging. Others not so much, but that doesn't bother me. Unlike novels I often think a poetry collection as very good if it only contains a couple impressive poems. I would definitley be interested in reading more of Ferry's work, and may already have done so, but simply don't remember it.
Apr 02, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-for-work
Decent, but not to my taste. The high points were Ferry's more conservative translations of classics, particularly Catullus. The translations in which he took more liberties, even going so far as to render Horace's Latin into modern English colloquialisms, were rather off-putting. Didn't much care for his original work, either.
Apr 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2013, poetry
a interesting mix of translations and original poems. the originals are often based on or make allusions to the classic translations which makes nice thematic links and is a nice reminder of how the classics can be a source of solace in the present.
Lisa Hiton
Nov 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely stunning. Will be taught for decades to come. Recalls Frost and Wordsworth and Keats. "Tell me your name. / How was it that I knew you?" Cannot wait for the Aeneid to be finished and released.
Nov 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Worth picking up if only for his powerful poems of loss, especially "That Now Are Wild and Do Not Remember."
Eamonn Barrett
Dec 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Very poetic, very interesting, a book that becomes more rewarding every time I read it.
Nov 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
This was the first book of poetry I've read. The works are amazing, making you think and analyze your own life. Would recommend!
Oct 13, 2016 rated it liked it
Fine and solid collection.
David Ferry's writing style and I had a little bit of a knock down drag out. We both walked away agreeing to disagree.
Poetry that is wonderous. Poetry layered upon poetry. Poems of age, death, mythology which illuminate the everyday occurences. Not enough LGBT
« previous 1 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
BVSW ELA 11 - Sum...: MODERATOR: Dr. Golden 1 1 May 08, 2014 01:58PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Fast Animal
  • Stay, Illusion: Poems
  • Metaphysical Dog
  • Incarnadine: Poems
  • Vice: New and Selected Poems
  • Versed
  • Head Off & Split
  • 3 Sections
  • Eye Level: Poems
  • Indecency
  • Fire to Fire
  • Digest
  • North and South
  • Splay Anthem
  • Place: New Poems
  • Scrambled Eggs & Whiskey
  • Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys
  • Collected Poems
See similar books…
David Ferry was born in Orange, New Jersey in 1924. He is the author of a number of books of poetry and has translated several works from classical languages. Currently he is the Sophie Chantal Hart Professor Emeritus of English at Wellesley College, as well as a visiting lecturer in the Graduate Creative Writing Program at Boston University and a distinguished visiting scholar at Suffolk Universi ...more