A strong song tows us

ebook The life of Basil Bunting, Britain's greatest modernist poet

By Richard Burton

cover image of A strong song tows us

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Basil Bunting was Britain's greatest modernist poet, yet his star has waned since his death in 1985. Bunting's work was admired by the finest writers of the twentieth century, including W. B. Yeats, Ezra Pound, Ernest Hemingway, Ford Madox Ford and William Carlos Williams. His masterpiece, Briggflatts, catapulted Bunting to stardom and during the 1960s and 1970s he was the world's most famous living poet, yet when he died he was practically penniless. During his long life Bunting was an artists' model, roadmender, sailor, balloon operator, diplomat, spy, journalist and university lecturer. None of these was his true vocation – from an early age Bunting knew he was meant to be a poet. He lived in London, Paris, Rapallo, the US and Canada, and in Persia and Iraq, but his heart was always drawn to the north of England where he grew up and where he met the love of his life, Peggy Greenbank. Peggy remained in his mind throughout fifty years of separation until they were reunited after the publication of Briggflatts. Bunting believed that an artist's work should speak for itself and he went out of his way to obscure his life from public view, even asking friends to destroy his letters. Fortunately much correspondence survives, and this, along with recollections from those who knew him and the evidence of many other sources, has enabled Richard Burton to piece together the first full-length biography of Bunting in a vivid portrait of a brilliant, complicated and at times controversial man.
A strong song tows us