An open access publication of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences
Winter 2002

Young Marx

Frank Bidart
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Frank Bidart, a Fellow of the American Academy since 1992, is the author most recently of “Desire,” a finalist for the National Book Award, Pulitzer Prize, and the National Book Critics Circle Award. In April of 2002 he will publish a chapbook of poems about making, “Music Like Dirt” (Sarabande Books). He is also currently at work on an edition of Robert Lowell’s collected poems.

That man’s own life is an object for him. That animals
build nests, build dwellings,

whereas man contemplates himself

in the world that he has created;
That you cannot find yourself in your labor

because it does not belong to your essential being:

That estranged from labor the laborer is
self-estranged, alien to himself:

That your nature is to labor:

That feeling himself fleetingly unbound only when
eating, drinking, procreating, in his dwelling and dressing-up,

man erects means into sole and ultimate ends:

That where he makes what he makes, he is
not: That when he makes, he is not:

Thus the ground of our self-estrangement.

⁠—Marx in 1844, before the solutions that he proposed
betrayed him by entering history, before, like
Jesus, too many sins were committed in his name.