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)