From The First Book of Odes


The day being Whitsun we had pigeon for dinner;

but Richmond in the pitted river saw

mudmirrored mackintosh, a wet southwest

wiped and smeared dampness over Twickenham.


Pools on the bustop’s buttoned tarpaulin.

Wimbledon, Wandsworth, Clapham, the Oval.  ‘Lo,

Westminster Palace where the asses jaw!’


Endless disappointed buckshee-hunt!

Suburb and city giftless garden and street,

and the sky alight of an evening stubborn

and mute by day and never rei novae

inter rudes artium homines.

                          Never a spark of sedition

amongst the uneducated workingmen.


Basil Bunting


from The New Book of Odes

      8                     Each fettered ghost slips to his several grave.

Loud intolerant bells (the shrinking nightflower closes

tenderly round its stars to baulk their hectoring)

orate to deaf hills where the olive stirs and dozes

in easeless age, dim to farce of man’s fathoming.


Shepards away!  They toll throngs to your solitude

and their inquisitive harangue will disembody

shames and delights, all private features of your mood,

flay out your latencies, sieve your hopes, fray your shoddy.


The distant gods enorbed in bright indifference

whom we confess creatures or abstracts of our spirit,

unadored, absorbed into the incoherence,

leave desiccated names: rabbits sucked by a ferret.


            Basil Bunting