BUNTING, BASIL (1900-1985)
IMPROMPTU VERSE, ON THE FIRST PAGE OF AN AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED ('B'), addressed to Otto [Theis], the verse 20 lines, prefaced by the statement 'Counting syllables is the only way to write!'; in the letter on the second page Bunting explains why he has been so long in replying to Otto and Louise's letters, firstly because they followed him around Italy and secondly 'the lethargy of the climate, the idleness of my nature, & the natural reluctance of everybody to answering letters'; he thanks Otto for replying to his questions about work, commenting 'Lord knows when I shall work again'; makes a half-hearted promise to produce something for Louise's periodical, describes the first intelligent people he has met in 'a hundred years (or thereabouts)' and reflects that paradise would be a bore if one were the only saint, 2 pages, large quarto, Santa Caterina, Amalfi, 28 September 1929
Do not think that I am contented here
Although I am idle, well fed and brown.
There's nothing to see but the sun
And nothing but the wind to hear...'
...I may turn up in London any day
And put up with the noise, to get blotto
In some good pub with you, Otto
And listen to what you've to say.
Autograph verse manuscripts by Bunting are rare; no others (only a corrected typescript) have been sold at auction. Bunting was variously a poet, Squadron Leader, music critic, journalist and spy. This piece is PRESUMABLY UNPUBLISHED: not in Collected Poems, 1978. No poetical manuscript is listed in Location Register as being in a British institution.
Otto Theis was sometime literary editor of The Outlook, for which Bunting was the music critic; Theis was administrator of the fund that Margaret Burnham had created for Bunting.
PROVENANCE: Mr and Mrs Michael Theis, Louise Theis being editor of the periodical Everyman.
REFERENCE: Keith Alldritt, The Poet as Spy: The Life and Wild Times of Basil Bunting, 1998; Location Register of Twentieth-Century Literary Manuscripts and Letters, 2 volumes, 1988.