Basil Bunting


Under the olive trees 
walking alone 
on the green terraces 
very seldom 
over the sea seldom 
where it ravelled and spun 
blue tapestries white and green 
gravecloths of men 
Romans and modern men 
and the men of the sea 
who have neither nation nor time 
on the mountains seldom 
the white mountains beyond 
or the brown mountains between 
and their drifting echoes 
in the clouds and over the sea 
in shrines on their ridges 
the goddess of the country 
silverplated in silk and embroidery 
with offerings of pictures 
little ships and arms 
below me the ports 
with naked breasts 
shipless spoiled sacked 
because of the beauty of Helen 

precision clarifying vagueness; 
boundary to a wilderness 
of detail; chisel voice 
smoothing the flanks of noise; 
catalytic making whisper and whisper 
run together like two drops of quicksilver; 
factor that resolves 
                        unnoted harmonies; 
name of the nameless; 
                        stuff that clings 
to frigid limbs 
                       more marble hard 
than girls imagined by Mantegna ... 

The sea has no renewal, no forgetting, 
no variety of death, 
is silent with the silence of a single note. 

How can I sing with my love in my bosom? 
Unclean, immature and unseasonable salmon.