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Basil Bunting: Complete Poems

by Basil Bunting

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Basil Bunting (1900-85) is one of the most important British poets of the 20th century. Acknowledged since the 1930s as a major figure in Modernist poetry, first by Pound and Zukofsky and later by younger writers, the Northumbrian master poet had to wait over 30 years before his genius was finally recognised in Britain - in 1966, with the publication of 'Briggflatts', which Cyril Connolly called "the finest long poem to have been published in England since T.S. Eliot's 'Four Quartets'."

As well as 'Briggflatts', this new Complete Poems includes Bunting's other great Sonatas, most notably 'Villon' (1925) and 'The Spoils' (1951), along with his two books of Odes, his vividly realised 'Overdrafts' (as he called his free translations of Horace, Rudaki and others), and his brilliantly condensed Japanese adaptation, 'Chomei at Toyama' (1932). Like the earlier Oxford edition, it presents in its entirety Bunting's own Collected Poems, with the addition of the posthumous Uncollected Poems; but this centenary edition from Bloodaxe also has a new introduction by the late Richard Caddel.

"Briggflatts is one of the few great poems of this century. It seems to me greater each time I read it."
Thom Gunn

"His poems are the most important which have appeared in any form of the English language since T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land."
Hugh MacDiarmid

Born in Northumberland in 1900, Basil Bunting lived in Paris in the 20s, where Ezra Pound rescued him from jail and fixed him up with a job on the Transatlantic Review. He later followed Pound to Italy - giving up his job to Hemingway - where Yeats knew him as "one of Pound's more savage disciples".
For the next 30 years he led a sometimes wild and always varied life - in Italy, England, Berlin, Tenerife, America and Persia - as a struggling, penniless writer, a music critic, sea captain, RAF officer, Times correspondent and Chief of Political Intelligence in Tehran. During these years he built up a reputation in America as the best English poet of his generation, at the same time as his poetry was neglected in Britain. In 1954 he returned to Northumberland, and worked for several years as a sub-editor on the Newcastle Evening Chronicle. It was not until the publication of Briggflatts in 1966 that his genius was finally recognised. He died in 1985.

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Basil Bunting: Complete Poems