from Odes: 10. Chorus of Furies

By Basil Bunting 1900–1985 Basil Bunting

Guarda mi disse, le feroce Erine

Let us come upon him first as if in a dream,
anonymous triple presence,
memory made substance and tally of heart’s rot:   
then in the waking Now be demonstrable, seem   
sole aspect of being’s essence,
coffin to the living touch, self’s Iscariot.
Then he will loath the year’s recurrent long caress   
without hope of divorce,
envying idiocy’s apathy or the stress
of definite remorse.
He will lapse into a halflife lest the taut force
of the mind’s eagerness
recall those fiends or new apparitions endorse
his excessive distress.
He will shrink, his manhood leave him, slough selfaware   
the last skin of the flayed: despair.
He will nurse his terror carefully, uncertain
even of death’s solace,
impotent to outpace
dispersion of the soul, disruption of the brain.

Basil Bunting, “10. Chorus of Furies (from Odes)” from Complete Poems, edited by Richard Caddel. Reprinted with the permission of Bloodaxe Books Ltd., www.bloodaxebooks.com.

Source: Collected Poems (Bloodaxe Books, 1968)

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Poet Basil Bunting 1900–1985

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Modern

Subjects Living, Disappointment & Failure, Sorrow & Grieving, Death

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

 Basil  Bunting

Biography

Basil Bunting was born in Scotswood-on-Tyne, Northumberland. Despite numerous years abroad in Italy, the Canary Islands, the United States, and current-day Iran, Bunting is known as a poet of Northern England and is closely associated with Northumberland, where he lived during the last years of his life. Bunting attended a Quaker school and was a conscientious objector during World War I. Arrested for his political views, . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Disappointment & Failure, Sorrow & Grieving, Death

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Modern

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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