Pages

20 April 2009

More Basil Bunting


Just in case you're feeling happy about spring, read this:
Weeping oaks grieve, chestnuts raise
mournful candles. Sad is spring
to perpetuate, sad to trace
immortalities never changing.

Weary on the sea
for sight of land
gazing past the coming wave we
see the same wave;

drift on merciless reiteration of years;
descry no death; but spring
is everlasting
resurrection.

It's the first poem, dated 1924, in Bunting's First Book of Odes. I like the idea of chestnuts raising mournful candles. It takes me back to Cambridge and my room in New Court. During revision, at this time of year, my window would be filled with the view of the chestnut in the middle, with its distinctive pink blossom. Combine that colour with the smell of gitanes, and you get me, aged 20.

Bunting was 23 or 24 when this poem was written. Men of that age are, I suppose, permitted to express a weariness with life's insisting on persisting year after year.

No comments: