Basil Bunting

B
Basil Bunting
from Fearful Symmetry
Muzzle and jowl and beastly brow,
bilious glaring eyes, tufted ears,
recidivous criminality in the slouch,
—This is not the latest absconding bankrupt
but a ‘beautiful’ tiger imported at great expense from
Kuala Lumpur.

7 photographers, 4 black-and-white artists and an R.A.
are taking his profitable likeness;
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36
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from Briggflatts: An Autobiography
I

Brag, sweet tenor bull,
descant on Rawthey’s madrigal,
each pebble its part
for the fells’ late spring.
Dance tiptoe, bull,
black against may.
Ridiculous and lovely
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34
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Chomei at Toyama
(Kamo-no-Chomei, born at Kamo 1154, died at Toyama on Mount Hino, 24th June 1216)
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30
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Coda
A strong song tows
us, long earsick.
Blind, we follow
rain slant, spray flick
to fields we do not know.

Night, float us.
Offshore wind, shout,
ask the sea
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30
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from Odes: 10. Chorus of Furies
Guarda mi disse, le feroce Erine Let us come upon him first as if in a dream,
anonymous triple presence,
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37
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from Odes: 14. Gin the Goodwife Stint
The ploughland has gone to bent
and the pasture to heather;
gin the goodwife stint,
she’ll keep the house together.

Gin the goodwife stint
and the bairns hunger
the Duke can get his rent
one year longer.
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from Odes: 15 "Nothing"
Nothing
substance utters or time
stills and restrains
joins design and

supple measure deftly
as thought’s intricate polyphonic
score dovetails with the tread
sensuous things
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30
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from Odes: 30. The Orotava Road
Four white heifers with sprawling hooves
trundle the waggon.
Its ill-roped crates heavy with fruit sway.
The chisel point of the goad, blue and white,
glitters ahead,
a flame to follow lance-high in a man’s hand
who does not shave. His linen trousers
like him want washing.
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from Odes: 36 "See! Their verses are laid"
See! Their verses are laid
as mosaic gold to gold
gold to lapis lazuli
white marble to porphyry
stone shouldering stone, the dice
polished alike, there is
no cement seen and no gap
between stones as the frieze strides
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34
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from Second Book of Odes: 6. What the Chairman Told Tom
Poetry? It’s a hobby.
I run model trains.
Mr Shaw there breeds pigeons.

It’s not work. You dont sweat.
Nobody pays for it.
You could advertise soap.

Art, that’s opera; or repertory—
The Desert Song.
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Villon
I

He whom we anatomized
‘whose words we gathered as pleasant flowers
and thought on his wit and how neatly he described things’
speaks
to us, hatching marrow,
broody all night over the bones of a deadman.

My tongue is a curve in the ear. Vision is lies.
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