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By Basil Bunting

A strong song tows

us, long earsick.

Blind, we follow

rain slant, spray flick

to fields we do not know.


Night, float us.

Offshore wind, shout,

ask the sea

what’s lost, what’s left,

what horn sunk,

what crown adrift.


Where we are who knows

of kings who sup

while day fails? Who,

swinging his axe

to fell kings, guesses

where we go?


Basil Bunting, “Coda” from Complete Poems, edited by Richard Caddel. Reprinted with the permission of Bloodaxe Books Ltd., www.bloodaxebooks.com.

Source: Collected Poems (Bloodaxe Books, 1968)

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Poet Bio

Basil Bunting
Though his major poems were not written until late in life, and despite the sporadic composition of his poetry, Basil Bunting wrote some of the most enduring verse of the twentieth century. Born in Northumberland, England, and raised in Quaker boarding schools, Bunting lived all over the world, working for Ford Madox Ford in Paris, for the British Government in Persia, and as a professor in California. Through his literary connections, he became an associate and disciple of Ezra Pound, who greatly influenced Bunting’s poetry. Believing that sound is the only indispensable facet of poetry, Bunting evokes his Northumberland dialect in short, strong lines, which are often allusive and dense, as illustrated in his poem “Coda.”

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