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Saturday, March 4, 2017

A singular style of one's own

“Whether you listen to a piece of music, or a poem, or look at a picture or a jug, or a piece of sculpture, what matters about it is not what it has in common with others of its kind, but what is singularly its own.” – Basil Bunting

One of the 20th Century’s most significant British modernist poets, Bunting was born to start the century (in 2000) and began writing poetry as a child.  His reputation was cemented with the publication of his 1966 masterpiece Briggflatts, an autobiographical long poem that looks back on teenage love and his involvement in the high modernist period. It also is a meditation on the limits of life and a celebration of his native Northumbrian culture.
Bunting had a lifelong interest in music that led him to emphasize  
 the sonic qualities of poetry, particularly the importance of reading poetry aloud.  He was an accomplished reader of verse – especially his own – and you can find many recordings of him that are well worth your time.

For Saturday’s Poem, here – from Briggflatts – is Bunting’s,

A strong song tows
us, long earsick.
Blind, we follow
rain slant, spray flick
to fields we do not know.

Night, float us.
Offshore wind, shout,
ask the sea
what’s lost, what’s left,
what horn sunk,
what crown adrift.

Where we are who knows
of kings who sup
while day fails? Who,
swinging his axe
to fell kings, guesses
where we go?

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