Francis Bacon Three figures and Portrait
Francis Bacon ‘Three figures and portrait’

Poems after Francis Bacon

Anne Stevenson

personality, the flesh artist
(and presiding self-portrait)
has perfected his trick of exposing
bodies to money
until they attain metallic

when these hunks of human stuff
harden into fixed forms
reptilian man thinks in one circle,
mammalian woman in another.

her gold ring is larger and brighter
than his rink of empire.

that fury in a cage
is their offspring.

she has sprung fully armed
from their heads,
and she means to hate them.

at present she’s
spooling her childhood
in her chittering skull.

Francis Bacon Seated figure 1961
Francis Bacon ‘Seated figure’ 1961

Anne Stevenson is American but has lived in Britain since 1964. her nine collections of poetry include Correspondences and The Fiction-Makers (Oxford University Press), a Poetry Book Society choice for 1985. A Selected Poems appeared in 1987.

Note: Poems after Francis Bacon are from a cycle of poems on works by the artists, published in The Other House (Oxford University Press), 1990.

Francis Bacon Portret of Lucian Freud
Francis Bacon ‘Portret of Lucian Freud’