Basil Bunting

First reading of Basil Bunting's performance of Thomas Wyatt's 'Blame not my lute' (3)

Ross Hair

The black screen that greeted me when I opened the PennSound link seemed particularly appropriate for the First Reading assignment. No context, no introduction, no preamble; just a recording of Bunting in the form of a nondescript audio file that, after clicking play, inched its way across the black screen, its bar changing from grey to white in just under three minutes. The URL reveals that the recording dates back to 1977. The PennSound Bunting page yields little extra: “Blame Not My Lute” is but one of eleven Wyatt poems that Bunting read at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1977.

First reading of Basil Bunting's performance of Thomas Wyatt's 'Blame not my lute' (2)

Stefanie Sobelle

Sitting down to write my first “reading” of Basil Bunting’s 1977 performance of Sir Thomas Wyatt’s sixteenth-century poem “Blame Not My Lute,” I realize that I rarely read firstly anymore, properly speaking. That is, if I know I will be writing about a text of any kind, I research it before beginning. Were I to be writing an interpretation of the Bunting, for example, I would spend some time perusing relevant scholarship.

First reading of Basil Bunting's performance of Thomas Wyatt's 'Blame not my lute' (1)

Andrea Brady

This essay by Andrea Brady is the first of five “first readings” we will publish — initial responses to the experience of hearing Basil Bunting cover Thomas Wyatt’s “Blame Not My Lute.” The recording is linked here and also available at PennSound’s Bunting page. — A.F., B.R. & C.W.

Basil Bunting’s voice is so familiar – the Briggflatts intonation, half-Santa Claus, half-priest, that hieratic tone which makes Ezra Pound reach for his kettle drum; those luxurious rolling rs. 

Word up (PoemTalk #74)

Whitman's 'Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking' as performed by Basil Bunting


Amy King, Julia Bloch, and Tom Pickard — before a live audience — joined Al Filreis to discuss Basil Bunting’s 1977 performance of Walt Whitman’s “Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking.” On that occasion, a reading at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Bunting read poems by Thomas Wyatt, Ezra Pound (Cantos I and II), Edmund Spenser, and Louis Zukofsky, as well as this poem by Whitman. The full reading of “Out of the Cradle” runs some nineteen minutes.

British poet Basil Bunting

Spying for MI6 and the CIA

Basil Bunting, Cumbria, UK, 1980. Photograph (c) Jonathan Williams
Basil Bunting, Cumbria, UK, 1980. Photograph (c) Jonathan Williams

British poet Basil Bunting was part of the plot engineered by the CIA, MI6 and Anglo Oil to depose Prime Minister (of Iran) Mossadeq, whose administration, as Wikipedia says, “introduced a wide range of social reforms but is most notable for its nationalization of the Iranian oil industry, which had been under British control since 1913 through the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (APOC/AIOC) (later British Petroleum or BP).” They go on to say that Mossadeq “was removed from power in a coup on 19 August 1953, organised and carried out by the United States CIA at the request of the British MI6.” So

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