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Light shining upon no substance

October 27, 2014
Basil Bunting (1900-85) was a late modernist poet and disciple of Ezra Pound, and recognizable as English just by his name. His politics leaned towards Pound’s, though not all the way; this may account somewhat for his current unpopularity. He’s certainly not a major poet, but I find many of his poems beautiful–a kind of spartan musicality. The style, especially the half-rhymes, remind me of Yeats, and of course the later Yeats was influenced by Pound; so perhaps it’s finally time for me to read the old fascist.  He wrote a number of books of odes; this is Ode: 36:
See! Their verses are laid
as mosaic gold to gold
gold to lapis lazuli
white marble to porphyry
stone shouldering stone, the dice
polished alike, there is
no cement seen and no gap
between stones as the frieze strides
to the impending apse:
the rays of many glories
forced to its focus forming
a glory neither of stone
nor metal, neither of words
nor verses, but of the light
shining upon no substance;
a glory not made
for which all else was made.
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