Complete Poems Paperback – 21 Jan 2000
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"There is verse which is directly melodic, which seems to sing rather than speak. Basil Bunting is a master of this...."
About the Author
About the Author: Richard Caddel is Director of the Basil Bunting Poetry Center, Durham University, and is the author and editor of many works including Basil Bunting: Uncollected Poems (Oxford, 1991). --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
So, having got that out of the way, why five stars?
Because BB was one of the most interesting, rewarding, funny, poignant, cutting, accessible and all round enjoyable poets to emerge from the ferment of the 1930s.
Yes, of course Briggflatts is here, and it is magnificent. But there is a lot else which lies in its shadow. Try "What the Chairman Told Tom" which is just very, very funny, or the beauty of "I Am Agog for Foam".
There is so much to savour in this volume.
But that still doesn't make it complete.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
This edition brings together the majority of Bunting's work he and his executors saw fit to preserve and is definitive. In it you can treat yourself to the First Book of Odes with its brief verses originally published in various magazines and pamphlets that published the work of poets prepared to make poetry count after the foggy Neo-Romanticism of the Georgians had all but rendered it irrelevant. Alongside is the Second Book of Odes, mainly assembled in 1965 after Bunting, neglected and working on a newspaper in Newcastle England had been rediscovered by counterculture poet Tom Pickard. These poems are brief and lyrical, reinforcing Bunting's belief that "poetry is to be heard", and are sometimes hard to get into. However, they repay a certain amount of rereading and rapidly become memorable. The same can be said for the "Overdrafts" - free verse versions of poets as diverse as Horace, Virgil, Firdosi and Rudaki. Bunting spoke Persian fluently (he worked in Iran for part of his life) and his translations are highly accessible.
The highpoint of the book, however, must be "Briggflatts". "Brag, sweet tenor bull/Descant on Rawthey's madrigal". It is described by the poet as "an autobiography", but it communicates on a far deeper level than simply that. Items of myth, music and art are fused ably together, and the effect is of an English Modernist masterpiece rivalling Eliot's "The Waste Land" and Hart Crane's "The Bridge". The poem experiments with sonata form, as do "Villon" and "The Spoils" among others.
Bunting was Pound's follower, but he avoided his political excesses and linguistic boasting. He also perhaps managed a higher level of originality, for whilst like Pound and Eliot he was happy to draw on sources, Bunting seems to have weaved his heritage into his work in a way in which the joins are less obvious. His concern was primarily with music, and he had, whilst making it new, to make connections with sound in the manner of the Troubadours or wandering minstrels. His work deserves every new reader it gets.
You can read more about "Briggflatts" in this longer introduction to the poem: http://www.freemanng.net/blog/2015/01/06/review-a-strong-song-basil-bunting-briggflatts/