Some Bunting Odes.

I have been asked, in a revived 2004 thread, to provide more poetry, and since that post was a Basil Bunting poem and I love Bunting and I haven’t posted any Bunting in quite a while, well, here you go, from his Uncollected Odes:

Coryphée gravefooted precise, dance to the gracious music
Thoughts make moving about, dance to the mind’s delicate symphony.

The flat land lies under water
hedge-chequer-grill above concealing
(not long) heliotrope monotony.

Cold water shin-embracing clacks
desolately, no overtones. Lukewarm
moist socks trickle sea-boot squeezed
black gutters muttering between the toes.
Moreover it rains, drizzles.

Utter-horizon-penetrating glances
spoil only paupers towing derelict home
the flat land hedge-grilled heliotrope under water.

7 Envoi to the Reader
From above the moon
      to below the fishes
nobody knows
      my secret heart.
Do you suppose
      I’d publish it?
Spell out a fart
      and have it printed?


  1. I’m looking for a fart acrostic and I’m not seeing it.

  2. “Don’t know, I’ve never bunted.”

  3. Lexicography in the news: Shortlisted* today for the Booker prize.

    *”Longlisted” in the review, but that was then.

  4. Sounds intriguing, if grim.

    Some are murdered.

    Brings to mind Pound’s immortal parody of Housman (“Some lads get hung, and some get shot. / Woeful is this human lot. / Woe! woe, etcetera…”).

  5. Hat: ‘hanged’, surely. 🙂

  6. Take it up with Ez. But the alleged difference in usage is purely a construct of prescriptive grammar, with little relation to actual usage.

  7. David Marjanović says:

    It’s etymologically interesting, though – an intransitive verb getting confused with its own causative, while the same thing was independently happening to the same two verbs in German.

  8. Lars (the original one) says:

    And North Germanic — levelled in favour of the weak verb in Swedish and Norwegian; Danish has merger in present tense (levelling) and participle (sound law I think) but has separate past tense forms for my generation (and sociolect) at least: den hang der fordi nogen hængte den der. This is evidently a result of earlier prescriptivist activity (the intransitive form may even be loaned from German, inherited would be !hæk) and the two past forms were confused in the spoken language a hundred years ago, but I learned the distinction natively and don’t have to think about it.

    It probably helps that the weak-because-causative form is used in all contexts, not just for capital punishment.

  9. David Marjanović says:

    In German you can find the distinction in the simple past, but probably not obligatorily anymore – and the weak form is already remodeled after the strong one: it’s hängte, but must have been henkte at some point.

  10. Which in my dialect sound the same anyway.

  11. David Marjanović says:

    Ah, that might be the actual cause of the merger. They don’t sound the same for me (for this reason), so I had to blame analogy from the fact that no other transparent verb pair of this sort seems to come with a change in consonants…

  12. Re: hanged/hung — I learned that “a picture is hung, a man is hanged” from some fiction book I read as a kid, can’t remember which book specifically. This doesn’t seem to be the distinction David Marjanović is getting at though, because they are both transitive I think? [Edit: clearer example of both used transitively: “I hung a picture on the wall.” and “They hanged a man in the town square.”]

    (The Merriam Webster usage note says they have different etymologies, which kind of reminds me of the Languagehat discussion of quay/cay/key/etc.)

  13. Also, if you guys don’t mind fielding a poetry noob question: how do you read the first poem, uhm, “poetically”?

    Is there a metrical rhythm to it other than the caesurae from the commas?

  14. It’s a good question; I read it as loose six-foot lines, though you really have to rush the second line to make it work. I don’t think it has meter as such, but I’d love to hear the author read it to see how he heard it.

  15. David Marjanović says:

    Edit: clearer example of both used transitively: “I hung a picture on the wall.” and “They hanged a man in the town square.”

    Yes, but at an older stage, hanged covered all transitive uses: “I hanged a picture on the wall, and then it hung there.” That still works in German: ich hängte ein Bild an die Wand, und dann hing es dort.

  16. Thank you to languagehat and David for the answers and clarification!

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