Basil Cheesman Bunting (1 March 1900 – 17 April 1985) was a significant British modernist poet whose reputation was established with the publication of Briggflatts in 1966. He had a lifelong interest in music that led him to emphasise the sonic qualities of poetry, particularly the importance of reading poetry aloud. He was an accomplished reader of his own work.
Born into a Quaker family in Scotswood-on-Tyne, Northumberland (now part of Newcastle upon Tyne). He studied at two Quaker schools: from 1912–1916 at Ackworth School in Yorkshire and from 1916–1918 at Leighton Park School in Berkshire. His Quaker education strongly influenced his pacifist opposition to World War I, and in... more »
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Basil Bunting Poems
At Briggflatts Meetinghouse
Boasts time mocks cumber Rome. Wren set up his own monument. Others watch fells dwindle, think the sun's fires sink.
What The Chairman Told Tom
Poetry? It's a hobby. I run model trains. Mr Shaw there breeds pigeons.
On the Fly-Leaf of Pound's Cantos
There are the Alps. What is there to say about them? They don't make sense. Fatal glaciers, crags cranks climb, jumbled boulder and weed, pasture and boulder, scree, et l'on entend, maybe, le refrain joyeux et leger.
Briggflatts - Part I
I Brag, sweet tenor bull, descant on Rawthey’s madrigal, each pebble its part
Gin the Goodwife Stint
The ploughland has gone to bent and the pasture to heather; gin the goodwife stint, she'll keep the house together.
Nothing substance utters or time stills and restrains joins design and
A strong song tows us, long earsick. Blind, we follow rain slant, spray flick
The Earthy Shields
Lavender and contorted Only and lavender Outrageous and very
Chomei At Toyama
Swirl sleeping in the waterfall! On motionless pools scum a...
I He whom we anatomized ‘whose words we gathered as pleasant flowers and thought on his wit and how neatly he described things’
Chorus Of Furies
Let us come upon him first as if in a dream, anonymous triple presence,
See! Their Verses Are Laid
See! Their verses are laid as mosaic gold to gold gold to lapis lazuli white marble to porphyry
The Orotava Road
Four white heifers with sprawling hooves trundle the waggon. Its ill-roped crates heavy with fruit sway.
Quotationsmore quotations »
''To appreciate present conditionsBasil Bunting (1900-1985), British poet. Chomei at Toyama.
collate them with those of antiquity.''
I hate Science. It denies a man's responsibility for his own deeds, abolishes the brotherhood that springs from God's fatherhood. It is a hectoring, dictating expertise, which makes the least lovable ...Basil Bunting (1900-1985), British poet. letter, Jan. 1, 1947, to poet Louis Zukofsky. Quoted in The Poetry of Basil Bunting, ch. 6, by Victoria Forde...
The mystic purchases a moment of exhilaration with a lifetime of confusion; and the confusion is infectious and destructive. It is confusing and destructive to try and explain anything in terms of any...Basil Bunting (1900-1985), British poet. letter, Sept. 1932, to poet Louis Zukofsky. Quoted in Victoria Forde, The Poetry of Basil Bunting, ch. 2 (199...
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
(26 April 1564 - 23 April 1616)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
Edgar Allan Poe
(19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849)
(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967)
(31 May 1819 - 26 March 1892)
(16 August 1920 – 9 March 1994)
At Briggflatts Meetinghouse
Boasts time mocks cumber Rome. Wren
set up his own monument.
Others watch fells dwindle, think
the sun's fires sink.
Stones indeed sift to sand, oak
blends with saint's bones.
Yet for a little longer here
stone and oak shelter
silence while we ask nothing
but silence. Look how clouds dance
under the wind's wing, and leaves
delight in transience.