Uncollected poems

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Oxford University Press, 1991 - Poetry - 64 pages
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Basil Bunting is now recognized as one of the most important twentieth-century British poets. This volume supplements his Collected Poems, with work that survived his own rigorous self-editing, but remained uncollected at the time of his death in 1985. The poems represented include Pound-pastiches from the thirties, examples from the rich, densely patterned work of the post-Briggflatts period, and a series of free translations (one of which, "The Pious Cat," is translated from a Persian to a Northumbrian setting.

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About the author (1991)

Ever the maverick, Basil Bunting was one of the most English as well as the most Americanized of modern British poets. Born in Northumbria, in northern England, in 1900, and educated largely at Quaker boarding schools, he declared himself a conscientious objector in World War I and served a term in prison. After a year and a half at the London School of Economics, he traveled extensively-particularly in Paris and later in Italy. He supported himself through journalism, often doing music reviews. During World War II, he worked for the British merchant navy and was then sent to Persia by the government, eventually becoming Persian correspondent for the London Times. Work for an English provincial newspaper followed, and in the mid-1960s he returned to poetry and achieved his first public success with the autobiographical poem Briggflatts (1965). The unlikely duo of William Wordsworth and Ezra Pound exerted major influences on Bunting's work. From Wordsworth came the preoccupation with rural life in his native Northumbria, which constitutes his best subject. From Pound came the verse techniques of American modernism with which Bunting presents his material. Pound helped him get his first volume of verse published. Almost ignored in Britain until the late 1960s, Bunting later became an influential conduit of modernist techniques into native British poetry. His own formal innovations consist principally in his detailed adaptations of musical structures and forms for verbal art. Bunting died in 1985.

Caddel is a director of Basil Bunting Poetry Centre, University of Durham.

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