Thursday, August 20, 2009

If you study to become a poet...

A Flag for Bunting

If you study to become a poet, study to be a Basil
Bunting: heckler of the vernacular (to no pay), last
real troubadour along any road you name—knocking
the door, a man of nations. Of all the Moderns he
was the only to wrestle Keats to the mat, nightingale
and all. If Briggflatts seems now keen to us as The
Waste Land and his Chomei at Toyama illustrated by
Hokusai, he would shrug that off as small potatoes,
a ruse of time. If we stayed heir, year by year, to
such lines as “I am agog for foam. Tumultuous come
/ with teeming sweetness to the bitter shore” . . .
no more. Study to be printed a ghost, those who hear
the Muses’ Siren song. There, Basil walks the wave.

-- Ronald Johnson

Via John Latta's superb blog; someday my edition of BB will emerge from Faber.
Photo by the late David James, via his son Jeremy's blog, Poet in a Lens.

1 comment:

the unreliable narrator said...

Weirdly, whilst rereading Jorie earlier this summer, I decided abruptly that all lyric poets since 1820 are really up against Keats, whether we know it or don't, and started rereading *him* instead—so I'm especially delighted to hear that Basil "wrestled him to the mat." When are they EVER going to let us have that book?!