Basil Bunting (1900-1985)

A Song for Rustam

A Song for Rustam

Tears are for what can be mended,
Not for a voyage ended
The day the schooner put out.
Short fear and sudden quiet
Too deep for a diving thief.
Tears are for easy grief.

My soil is shorn,
Forests and corn.
Winter will bare the rock.
What has he left of pride
Whose son is dead?
My soil has shaved its head.

The sky withers and stinks.
Star after star sinks
Into the west, by you.
Whirling, spokes of the wheel
Hoist up a faded day,
its sky wrinkled and grey.

Words slung to the gale
Stammer and fail:
‘Unseen is not unknown,
unkissed is not unloved,
Unheard is not unsung;’
Words late, lost, dumb.

Truth that shone is dim,
Lies cripple every limb.
Where you were, you are not.
Silent, heavy air
Stifles the heart’s leap.
Truth is asleep.