Basil Bunting was one of the most important British poets of the 20th century. Acknowledged since the s as a major figure in Modernist poetry, first by Pound. Briggflatts by Basil Bunting is one of the great poems of the twentieth century, though it has not always occupied a central place in discussions. Basil Bunting’s poem “Briggflatts” has been hailed as the successor to Ezra Pound’s “Cantos” and T. S. Eliot’s “Four Quartets.” Bunting himself.

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The rhythm and mood change dramatically in the first line of the next stanza: All his poetry is available in Complete Poems Bloodaxe Books, The solemn mallet says: Basil Bunting reading from Briggflatts This video features four short extracts of Basil Briggdlatts reading from his long poem Briggflatts not in orderfrom Peter Bell’s film portrait of Bunting, included on a DVD issued with the new Bloodaxe edition of Briggflatts which also has a CD of an audio recording Bunting made of the whole of Briggflatts in More personally, the litany of death and decay segues eventually into a recollection of the lost love affair with Peggy.

Loading comments… Trouble loading? The young lovers touch and kiss in stanza five, a masterpiece of tactile finesse and density of texture. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This video features four short extracts of Basil Bunting reading from his long poem Briggflatts not in orderfrom Peter Bell’s film portrait of Bunting, included on a Butning issued with the new Bloodaxe edition of Butning which also has a CD of an audio recording Bunting made of the whole of Briggflatts in To Rudman, the poem allows the subject to dictate the rhyming words and argues that the “solemn mallet” is allowed to change the patterns of speech in the poetry to meet with the themes discussed in the text.

The first part has a regular structure of 12 stanzas each containing 13 lines. Rawthey is a river; Garsdale, Hawes and Stainmore are nearby locations; the stonemason and miners are local characters.

Briggflatts | Bloodaxe Books

Bunting immediately takes us into the soundscape in their heads, and makes us hear all the small, complex interactions of horses and cartwheels. Basil Bunting was one of the most important British poets of the 20th century.


Buntkng the poem begins with an incantation, evoking youthful sexual energy and copiousness. The Coda is a fragment composed prior to the rest of the poem, which Bunting rediscovered and welded on at the last minute.

What sort of divine intervention is at play here? Notes on Free Verse”. Dance tiptoe, bull, black against may. Part 1 is therefore the beginning of a process of remembering real things, literally the first chapter in an autobiography. The moon sits on the fell but it will rain. It is a complex work, drawing on many elements of his life, experience and knowledge, and nriggflatts the saint Cuthbert and the warrior king Eric Bloodaxe as two opposing aspects of the Northumbrian — and his — character.

The reasons for this are complex, and have to do with a range of contentious biographical and historical factors such as the marginal status of modernism in the UK and Bunting’s own variable reputation. His delivery reminds us that language is built of muscle and saliva, air and bone.

In each stanzaic unit, all significant words and few are not significant make alliterative or assonantal relationships with others. Early adulthood to early birggflatts age.


Rub the stone with sand, wet sandstone rending roughness away. Part 2 is by some distance the longest in the poem. Part 1 is the most immediate and tightly structured in the poem. But now that he is an old man the perspective is different. Stocking to stocking, jersey to jersey, head to a hard arm, they kiss under the rain, bruised by their marble bed.

Speaking of letters, try and listen to one of the online recordings of Bunting himself reciting, and note how audibly he pronounces the letter R, wherever in bbriggflatts word it may occur. Alexander tries to conquer the world and reach the limits of experience, but in doing so he is ultimately returned back to the ground, to his homeland for Alexander this was Macedonia, but Bunting describes it here as a kind of Northumbrian arcadia.

It was first read in public on 22 December at the Morden Towerand published in by Fulcrum Press. Whatever a line stanza should be called, Bunting works it marvellously, entwining staccato and legato elements into one harmonious whole, like a flowing hillside studded by rocks. Under sacks on the stone two children lie, hear the horse stale, briggflagts mason whistle, harness mutter to shaft, felloe to axle squeak, rut thud the rim, crushed grit.


The following brief guide should hopefully provide a good foundation for first-time readers.


In between these biographical fragments, more indirect passages and mythical subjects jostle in typical high-modernist fashion. If part 4 was mostly tragic notes with a brief major-key interlude, part 5 is bbasil opposite. The verse here is emphatically musical, foregrounding alliteration, assonance and internal rhyme, with a stark rhyming couplet at the end of each stanza to draw it to a close.

In terms of the realist dimension, there may also be a glance here at the war and destruction Bunting witnessed in the mid-twentieth century we are now, chronologically, up to the ss.

Poem of the week: from Briggflatts by Basil Bunting

The text contains a note explaining that the word means “little sparrows” in a north-east dialect. Having accepted the need to be patient and respect briggflattd limitations in the face of nature, it is now possible to appreciate the precious details of life: Mark Rudman suggests that “Briggflatts” is an example of how free verse can be seen as an advance on traditional metrical poetry.

This page was last edited on 8 Mayat The Bloodaxe narrative is treated more fully: However, that is not quite the whole story; there is also a definite realist narrative here. The bull will re-appear later, when Bunting recalls the legend of Pasiphae.

In line with the moral of BriggflattsCuthbert was a quiet hero living on the margins of society who loved nature without seeking to control it.

Rawthey is the river, and its madrigal the polyphony of water over pebbles. All articles with dead external links Articles with dead external links from November Articles with permanently dead external links Webarchive template wayback links All stub articles. Briggflatts is a dense, basio wrought high-modernist work. The purpose of this allusion is twofold. Poetry must be read aloud.