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Briggflatts is a long poem by Basil Bunting published in 1965. The work is subtitled "An Autobiography." The title "Briggflatts" comes from the name of a meetinghouse (actually spelled "Brigflatts", with one "g") in a Quaker community near Sedbergh in Cumbria, England. Bunting visited Brigflatts as a schoolboy when the family of one of his schoolfriends lived there, and it was at this time that he developed a strong attachment to his friend's sister, Peggy Greenbank, to whom the poem is dedicated. It was first read in public on December 22, 1965 at the Morden Tower, and published in 1966 by Fulcrum Press.[1] Bunting also wrote another poem with 'Briggflatts' in its title, the short work "At Briggflatts meetinghouse" (1975).[2][3]

The Poem[edit]

The poem begins with an epigraph reading "The spuggies are fledged". The text contains a note explaining that the word means "little sparrows" in a north-east dialect.[4] The poem itself has a five-part structure. The first part has a regular structure of 12 stanzas each containing 13 lines. In the following four parts the stanzas vary in length from couplets to quatrains to stanzas of more than 20 lines. The rhyme scheme also changes throughout the poem as the bulk of the text appears in free verse while other lines do contain rhyming patterns.

Critical response[edit]

Mark Rudman suggests that "Briggflatts" is an example of how free verse can be seen as an advance of traditional metrical poetry. He cites the poem to show that free verse can include a rhyme scheme without following other conventions of traditional English poetry. To Rudman, the poem allows the subject to dictate the rhyming words and argues that the "solemn mallet" is allowed to change the patters of speech in the poetry to meet with the themes discussed in the text.[5]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Basil Bunting Poetry Centre "A Basic Chronology". [1] accessdate = 2006-12-01
  2. ^ Jacket Magazine. "Basil Bunting- poem- At Briggflatts meetinghouse (1975)". [2] accessed 2006-12-01
  3. ^ "Bunting Texts" [3].accessed 2006-12-01.
  4. ^ Davie, Donald. Under Briggflatts. University of Chicago Press {1989} p.40
  5. ^ Rudman, Mark. "Word Roots: Notes on Free Verse". Conversant Essays: Contemporary Poets on Poetry.Wayne State University Press ISBN 978-0-8143-2100-3 pp.153Template:Endask155