from First Book of Odes: 13. Fearful Symmetry

By Basil Bunting 1900–1985 Basil Bunting
Muzzle and jowl and beastly brow,
bilious glaring eyes, tufted ears,
recidivous criminality in the slouch,
—This is not the latest absconding bankrupt
but a ‘beautiful’ tiger imported at great expense from   
Kuala Lumpur.

7 photographers, 4 black-and-white artists and an R.A.   
are taking his profitable likeness;   
28 reporters and an essayist
are writing him up.
Sundry ladies think he is a darling   
especially at mealtimes, observing
that a firm near the docks advertises replicas
fullgrown on approval for easy cash payments.

♂Felis Tigris (Straits Settlements) (Bobo) takes exercise   
up and down his cage before feeding
in a stench of excrements of great cats
indifferent to beauty or brutality.
He is said to have eaten several persons
but of course you can never be quite sure of these things.

Basil Bunting, “13. Fearful Symmetry” from Complete Poems, edited by Richard Caddel. Reprinted with the permission of Bloodaxe Books Ltd.,

Source: Poetry (February 1932).


This poem originally appeared in the February 1932 issue of Poetry magazine

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February 1932
 Basil  Bunting


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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SUBJECT Nature, Relationships, Pets, Arts & Sciences, Animals, Poetry & Poets, Humor & Satire



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