And then, before I'd had a chance to run off the film in my camera, we found ourselves a few miles further North, on the banks of the River Rawthey, the opening scene of one of my favourite poems, Basil Bunting's Briggflatts:
Brag, sweet tenor bull,
descant on Rawthey's madrigal,
each pebble it's part
for the fell's late Spring...
If you don't know the poem, the first part is available online. In a way, this is misleading. The poem does not sustain the tone of the first part throughout. It changes key more than once. Bunting subtitled it "An Autobiography", but this is an autobiography which admits not only all history (this is clear from the first part), but all time as well:Aldebaran, low in the clear east,
beckoning boats to the fishing.
Capella floats from the north
with shields hung on his gunwale.
That is no dinghy's lantern
occulted by the swell - Betelgeuse,
calling behind him to Rigel.
Starlight is almost flesh.
Then is Now. The star you steer by is gone,
its tremulous thread spun in the hurricane
spider floss on my cheek; ...
Briggflatts occupies a niche in my mind which I think "English Literature" likes to reserve for The Waste Land. Bunting's refreshingly down-to-earth footnotes to the the poem are a good read in themselves ("Scone: rhyme it with 'on', not for heaven's sake, 'own'") and point out:
'"Sailors pronounce Betelgeuse "Beetle juice" and so do I. His companion is Ridgel, not "Rhy-ghel".'