A Poet’s Lost Year by Desmond Egan

A Poet’s Lost Year by Desmond Egan Basil Bunting

Readers may forgive me at this season of peace and goodwill, having already written about my most enjoyed book of last year (The Irish Catholic December 24, 2020), for concluding here my thoughts about 2020 with something I wrote during this Covid-19 year, which – I now discover – seems curiously ad rem:

A Poem for 2021

Bunting said he used to be a poet

around the time of Briggflatts

but in the documentary

he pours a visitor tea with

such shaking vehemence it’s as if

nothing else mattered just then


as if the meaning of everything were there

beyond reach of any words

God in that battered teapot


Editorial note: Basil Bunting’s long poem Briggflats: an autobiography (1966) was hailed on its appearance as the recovery of a major poet, through whose modernist poetry flowed a wide variety of influences, Quaker piety, Ezra Pound, a love of music. Mr Bunting said he wished to restore to current use the sheer sound of words, the musicality of creation. The television documentary referred to can be seen online.