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Complete Poems Paperback – December, 2003

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Editorial Reviews


'Take a chisel to write,' he says in "Briggflatts." What he wrote, stays. -- Robert Creeley

A compelling musicality that has its own economy, that budgets expressiveness against restraint, tunefulness against sense. -- Poetry, W.S. Di Piero, March 2005

Another beautiful, almost edible production from New Directions. -- Lyndon Davies, Poetry Wales, Spring 2004

His poems are the most important which have appeared in any form of the English language since The Waste Land. -- Hugh MacDiarmid

Likely the most exceptional lyric poet of the twentieth century writing in English....this work...deserves our most enduring attentions. -- Peter O'Leary, Talisman, Winter 2003

The major poet of postwar Britain: a master of concision, a superb literary translator, a great lyricist. -- Stephen Burt, The Nation, 3 January 2004

There is verse which is directly melodic, which seems to sing rather than speak. Basil Bunting is a master of this. -- G.S. Fraser, Times Literary Supplement

This new edition of a great modernist innovator is a gift for the reading public. -- Jamey Hecht, American Book Review, September/October 2004

We are most fortunate to have Bunting's poems in print once again. -- August Kleinzahler

About the Author

Basil Bunting (1900-1985) was a major figure in Modernist poetry, recognized by Pound and Zukofsky as early as the 1930s, and crowned, with the 1966 publication of his masterpiece "Briggflatts", Britain's greatest poet.

Richard Caddel is Director of the Basil Bunting Poetry Center at Durham University.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: New Directions (December 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811215636
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811215633
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #774,638 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Julian Meek-Davies on December 4, 2002
Format: Paperback
It is often said prophets are never appreciated in their own land, and in the case of Basil Bunting this adage seems particularly apt. Praised by Ezra Pound, whose disciple he was, and feted by the likes of luminaries William Butler Yeats and TS Eliot, his work remained virtually unknown to the outside world until 1966, when the (North of England based) Fulcrum Press brought out Briggflatts, an epic poem drawing on elements of inner autobiography and Northumbrian folklore. Then his career kicked off in earnest, with the result that we are now able to see Bunting for what he is; a great Modernist poet whose work will undoubtedly last.
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".
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 4, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Anyone who loves Louis Zukofsky and George Oppen must make the acquaintance of their great British contemporary and counterpart, Basil Bunting. I'll let this great poet describe himself: "STRENGTH / inked with a light brush." By "light," he does not mean feathery or easy off the tongue or on the eye; he means letting words have a say in what is being said and, in Bunting's case, more often sung. That takes an ear for speech as great as any. As Bunting urges, "listen as crags / listen to light." Otherwise (which is to say dumb) "the soil refuses the lightning" as the vellum on which ink flows rips beneath pen's ponderous weight. In short, 200+ pages of unerring music from a man worthy of being called a poet.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Freeman Ng on January 6, 2015
Format: Paperback
This is really a review of Bunting's long poem "Briggflatts" disguised as a review of this book in which it can be found. Bunting was a great poet whose poems are all worth reading, but "Briggflatts" was his masterpiece. It's like Eliot's "Wasteland" if Eliot had not been a snob, or like his "Four Quartets" without the religion. It's like Pound's Cantos if Pound hadn't been a little nuts. (Note: I love all those other poets and poems, too. I just like “Briggflatts” best.)

You can read more about "Briggflatts" in this longer introduction to the poem:
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