In 1966, Basil Bunting, then sixty-six years old, published his seven-hundred-line poem Briggflatts: An Autobiography in the Chicago magazine Poetry. A densely-wrought meditation on time and transience, love and loss, landscape and nationhood (among much else), it was immediately hailed as a modernist classic, praised by Thom Gunn and Donald Davie in notable essays, and Bunting was anointed as Eliot’s successor. Eliot never saw Briggflatts, having died the previous year; he had been lukewarm about Bunting’s earlier work, underestimating it as imitation Pound. For the remaining twenty years of his life, Bunting was popular as he never had been, in demand on the reading and teaching circuit. Whether he is still read in the United States I can’t say, but he is forgotten again in...


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