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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Stone smooth as skin, cold as the dead they load on a low lorry by night. Views Read Edit View history. Stocking to stocking, jersey to jersey, head to a hard arm, they kiss under the rain, bruised by their marble bed. 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.

Briggflatts – Part I Poem by Basil Bunting – Poem Hunter Comments

Yet the underlying moral is clear. The purpose of this allusion is twofold. Aside from its musical properties, part 4 is also notable for its elegiac subjects. Lying dazed in the moss and bracken after his fall from the mountain, he encounters the hero of Briggflattsthe slowworm actually briggglatts snake-like lizard who advises him to lie low, be patient, persistent and mindful of the beauty of his surroundings.

A skilled musician can imagine the sound, more or less, and a skilled reader can try to hear, mentally, what his eyes see in print: The opening passages of the section caricature greedy, powerful people who obstruct creativity and make life a literal vriggflatts nightmare.

The verse here is emphatically musical, foregrounding alliteration, assonance and internal rhyme, with briggfoatts stark rhyming couplet at the end of each stanza to draw it to a close. In Garsdale, dawn; at Hawes, tea from the can.


But it is arguably more vital and, dare I say it, accessible than those works, and can in fact be appreciated pretty well by first-time readers. Brifgflatts by Alex Niven at 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 a word it may occur. However, there is still the nagging sense of tragedy that has persisted throughout Briggflatts.


His syntax is so rigorously constructed hunting not a word, a breath, a letter, even, seems wasted. Show 25 25 50 All. 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 Brigflatts and Bunting’s own variable reputation.

Threads collapsed expanded unthreaded. Ridiculous and lovely chase hurdling shadows morning into noon. While his invitation to plagiarise is tempting, readers will get more insight and pleasure by going direct to source, and dipping for themselves. The Coda is a fragment composed prior to the rest of the poem, which Bunting rediscovered and welded on at the last minute.

More personally, the litany of death and briggfflatts segues eventually into a birggflatts of the lost love affair with Peggy.

Paralleling this episode, Bunting nods in the final lines of the section at the Ancient Greek myth of Pasiphae, who gave birth to the Minotaur after an encounter with a bull sent by the bnting Poseidon note the subject rhyme with the bull at the start of the poem. Rub the stone with sand, wet sandstone rending roughness away.

Briggflatts – Part I – Poem by Basil Bunting

Deeper history also comes to the surface with the first, brief appearance of the Viking warrior and sometime ruler of Northumbria Eric Bloodaxe, killed in battle on Stainmore around AD. Bunting visited Brigflatts as a schoolboy when the family of one of his schoolfriends lived there, and it was at this time that he developed a strong buntinv to his friend’s sister, Peggy Greenbank, to whom the poem is dedicated.

Under sacks on the stone two children lie, hear the horse stale, the mason whistle, briggfpatts mutter to shaft, felloe to axle squeak, rut thud the rim, crushed grit. He cites the poem to show that free verse can include a rhyme scheme without following other conventions of traditional English poetry.

This page was last edited on 8 Mayat However, that is not quite the whole story; there is also a definite realist narrative here. For all that, one thing is certain in the end: But there is some light in the gloom.


Notes on Free Verse”. The text contains a note explaining that the word means “little sparrows” in a north-east dialect. It was first read in public on 22 December at the Morden Towerand published in by Fulcrum Press.

So the poem begins with an incantation, evoking youthful sexual energy and copiousness. North Yorkshire; Lindisfarne; Tynedale. Dance tiptoe, bull, black against may. It deals in sound – long sounds and short sounds, heavy beats and light beats, the tone relations of the vowels, the relations of consonants to one another which are like instrumental colour in music.

Mark Rudman suggests that “Briggflatts” is an example of how free verse can be seen as an advance on traditional metrical poetry. Tongue stumbles, ears err for fear of spring. His delivery reminds us that language is built of muscle and saliva, air and bone.

The following brief guide should hopefully provide a good foundation for first-time readers. We have moved from the mountains in springtime to the Northumberland coast in winter, where the sea speaks of finality and the end of a journey. 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.

An introduction to the work of a poet was made by Northeast Films and first shown on Channel Four in As a teacher of undergraduate students over the last few years, I have found that Part 1 in particular lends itself very well to group reading and seminar discussion: Briggflatts is a dense, carefully wrought high-modernist work. In each stanzaic unit, all significant words and few are not significant make alliterative or assonantal relationships with others.

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