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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