AT BRIGGFLATTS MEETINGHOUSE.

Boasts time mocks cumber Rome. Wren
set up his own monument.
Others watch fells dwindle, think
the sun’s fires sink.
Stones indeed sift to sand, oak
blends with saints’ bones.
Yet for a little longer here
stone and oak shelter
silence while we ask nothing
but silence. Look how clouds dance
under the wind’s wing, and leaves
delight in transience.
    —Basil Bunting, 1975


From Jacket, where you will find an explication of the compressed first line and a link to a RealAudio file of Bunting reading the poem.
Transience. Five years is a long time and no time at all.

Comments

  1. Moses Quinion Galabuzi says:

    This poem is quite good, can some one give me its proper refference. will be greatful.

  2. “Basil Bunting” – name or activity?

  3. Moses: “At Briggflatts Meetinghouse” is #11 in Bunting’s Second Book of Odes; it’s in his Complete Poems, which I highly recommend if you like this one. The proportion of quality to bulk (it’s a slim volume) is as high as in the works of any poet I know.
    dearieme: Or decor!

  4. This is a lapidary piece. Thank you.

  5. Bunting is growing on me, as is Niedecker. Maybe in next month’s buy.

  6. Bunting is growing on me
    I’m not sure whether you need to see a doctor or a politician for that.

  7. When you are reading a line like:
    Stones indeed sift to sand, oak
    , what d’you do with your voice on that last syllable? I am reading it something like “stonesin-DEED, shiftoo-SAND, OAK—” with my voice falling off abruptly at the end of OAK as if I had been interrupted, then a pause before the next line (which is roughly, “BLENDSwith-SAINTSbones.”) Is this how Mr. B (whose name reminds me of “Billy Bunter”, a name which my Australian friend Gary uses to mean roughly “Joe Schmo”) intends it to be enunciated?

  8. Oh nemmine — I just noticed your Reelaudio link. I shall listen to it this evening.

  9. Bunting is growing on me
    Just don’t do it with two strikes on you already. :-)

  10. Listening to him read, I cannot hear any relation between the line breaks and the movements of his voice. Which seems a little strange to me — I mean hearing him speak he clearly intends for emphasis and pauses to be in particular locations. So why not reflect that desire in the lineation of the poem? Then other people would be able to read it the way it is intended, without needing to hear it first to do so. Like look:
    Boasts time mocks cumber Rome.
    Wren set up his own monument.
    Others watch fells dwindle,
    think the sun’s fires sink.
    Stones indeed sift to sand,
    oak blends with saints’ bones.
    Yet for a little longer here
        stone and oak shelter silence
    while we ask nothing but silence.
    Look how clouds dance under the wind’s wing,
    and leaves delight in transience.

  11. Urk — sorry — pay the signature on the above post no mind; it was actually me.

  12. Sock puppets not allowed here!

  13. Hear, hear! No sock puppets! Off with his head!

  14. Watch it or I’ll sic Zizka on you guys.

  15. Moses Qunion Galabuzi says:

    dearieme: i have tried to look for the book you told me to get this poem from but i have failed, do you know where i can get it from.iam actually in Kampala Uganda. thanks.
    Will be waiting to hear from you.

  16. Moses Quinion Galabuzi says:

    Well explained, but i thimk there are quite as many symbols left for me to understand.
    Thanx

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