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Basil Bunting and his Briggflatts

  • Jon Silkin

Abstract

There is a crux Ted Hughes considers in his essay ‘Myths, Metres, Rhythms’, from his collection Winter Pollen (1994), which arises from the domination of accentual-syllabic metre (such as iambic pentameter), where you count up the lines’ stresses (five) and the syllables (ten). And this same principle of counting stresses and syllables applies to other metres within the accentual-syllabic system. This structure, however, differs from the accentual one where you count the stresses but (within reason) do not total the syllables in the line; nor within reason need you have a fixed number of weaker syllables to balance the stressed ones. You may, for instance, have a line of four stresses, two either side of a caesura (as in Anglo-Saxon verse), and this line be integrated with head-rhyme or alliteration. (And of course, accentual verse and ‘sprung rhythm’ are cognate.) Hughes’s point is that the accentual structure was depressed by the rise and subsequent dominance of the accentual-syllabic line.

Keywords

Persian Version English Verse Verbal Clue Bare Essential Compound Adjective 
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References

  1. Basil Bunting, Collected Poems (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1987 (1978)).Google Scholar
  2. Basil Bunting, A Note on Briggflatts (Durham, Basil Bunting Archive, 1989).Google Scholar
  3. Basil Bunting, Three Essays, edited and introduced by Richard Caddel (Durham, Basil Bunting Poetry Centre, 1994).Google Scholar
  4. Descant on Rawthey’s Madrigal: Conversations with Basil Bunting by Jonathan, Williams (Lexington, Kentucky, gnomon press, 1968).Google Scholar
  5. Basil Bunting Special Issue, Agenda, Vol. 16, No. 1 (Spring 1978).Google Scholar
  6. R.S. Woof, ‘Basil Bunting’s Poetry’, Stand, Vol. 8, No. 2 (1966), pp. 28–34.Google Scholar
  7. Peter Makin, Basil Bunting: The Shaping of His Verse (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1992).Google Scholar
  8. Donald Davie, ‘Basil Bunting & His Masters’, Poetry Durham, No. 27 (1991), pp. 27–36.Google Scholar
  9. Donald Davie, ‘God and Basil Bunting’, Poetry Review, Vol. 83, No. 1 (1993), pp. 82–3.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Jon Silkin 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jon Silkin

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