Review of Barbaro: Beyond Brokennes
By Lyn Lifshin
Reviewer: Hugh Fox
The amazing thing about this book is the way Lifshin transforms a
horse named Barbaro into a human being.
By the time you get
through reading the book, you are totally inside her psyche,
precisely the way she did about the championship abilities of
personality and his sad death. A lot of the book deals
racing greatness and power, like “The Sparrows Saw Him: ”The
Sparrows Saw Him,/saw his hot heart,/walked under/ Maryland
magolia/leaves moved when he moved, his/glossy mane its own breeze.
He/had a love affair/with speed, could/not wait for the gate to
The main thrust here, though, is decline, illness,
tremendous sense of loss Barbaro’s death visits on Lifshin
herself: “No one can bear/another horse/in this stall./Stony
rising up,/the stall with its/diamond shaped/opening/Let it
(“Barbaro’s Birth Stall Empty,” p. 110).
She so transforms the
death of the
horse into universal grief that her feelings could just as well be
applied to her best friends, family,historical heroes, whoever she
to.As with every other subject she touches, Lifshin’s ability to
universalize, empathize, dramatize, turns her feelings into ours,
and we find yourself totally inside her visions and emotions. The
kind of hard-core interrelating that poetry and all the other
be all about.