Basil Bunting continued – (Bunting reads Campion)

Basil Bunting (1900-1985)

Thomas Campion (1567-1620)

A fresh tape – Basil Bunting in media res reading Thomas Campion‘s “Hark, all you ladies that do sleep!”

Hark, all you ladies that do sleep!
The fairy-queen Proserpina
Bids you awake and pity them that weep
You may do in the dark
What the day doth forbid;
Fear not the dogs that bark,
Night will have all hid.

But if you let your lovers moan,
The fairy-queen Proserpina
Will send abroad her fairies every one,
That shall pinch black and blue
Your white hands and fair arms
That did not kindly rue
Your paramours’ harms.

In myrtle arbours on the downs
The fairy-queen Proserpina,
This night by moonshine leading merry rounds,
Holds a watch with sweet love,
Down the dale, up the hill
No plaints or groans may move
Their holy vigil.

All you that will hold watch with love,
The fairy-queen Proserpina
Will make you fairer than Dione’s dove;
Roses red, lilies white,
And the clear damask hue,
Shall on your cheeks alight:
Love will adorn you.

All you that love or loved before,
The fairy-queen Proserpina
Bids you increase that loving humour more:
They that have not fed
On delight amorous,
She vows that they shall lead
Apes in Avernus.

AG: (approximately two-and-a-half minutes in] – Okay. What are we getting out of that? – because, when I heard it a few times, I can’t hear very clearly what the actual syllables are. It’s a series of parallel stanzas but if you hear him he goes [Allen imitates – oomf-oomfity-oompf,  oomf oomf-oomfity-oompf, oomf-onky-donk.– It’s a very clear parallelism in his voice in an almost musical sound, like a good solid musical sound, (with) the vowels coming right up to his throat and, like, really, holding on (to) them in the middle of his..  Like a big cock [sic!], I noticed – a real clear vocal appreciation of vowels

It’ll be easier with the next poems because they’re in your book.

AG: So the next [one of Campion] is “When Thou Must Home To Shades of Underground  (page 227 in the Norton (anthology) – This [Basil Bunting‘s] is the best reading of it that I’ve ever heard. The only reading I know that seems to completely understand every syllable of this…

[Beginning at approximately thirty-three-and-a-half minutes in, Allen plays tape of Basil Bunting reading Campion’s “Vobiscum Est Iope” (“When Thou Must Home To Shades of Underground”) 

When thou must home to shades of underground,
And there arrived, a new admirèd guest,
The beauteous spirits do engirt thee round,
White Iope, blithe Helen, and the rest,
To hear the stories of thy finish’d love
From that smooth tongue whose music hell can move;

Then wilt thou speak of banqueting delights,
Of masques and revels which sweet youth did make,
Of tourneys and great challenges of knights,
And all these triumphs for thy beauty’s sake:
When thou hast told these honours done to thee,
Then tell, O tell, how thou didst murder me!

He’s the only person I’ve heard pronounce that with, like sense, personal. I want to play that again because a couple of people missed it, didn’t get to the page on time. the thing I’m pointing out here is – first of all, his sense of time, the time of each line is really great. I mean, it’s.. he’s just so intelligent about that kind of verse form and so intelligent about Campion (and he’s been hung on Campion for fifty years, been listening to Campion, and talking to (Ezra) Pound about Campion, so that he’s probably the of the most, of modern times, the most sensitive of voices for reading Campion, just as vocal text). So his time, line-by-line, where he hesitates, where he pauses, how long he holds a consonant, how he rolls his “r”‘s , is real interesting and intelligent. And then, especially, what I was talking about, class after class, that he’s developed a sense of.. of the quantity, the length of the syllables in.. because that was his preoccupation (Pound’s and Bunting’s) so, because he has a clear mindfulness of vowel length and the length of syllables, his reading, then, is one of the most interesting and may turn you on, physiologically, to what I’ve been talking about. If you compare the way he would do it and how you might imagine it read if it was really accent that was being followed, you see an enormous difference.  Like when he says, “When aaall these..” (has anybody pronounced (it)), the way he pronounces the word “all”, which is a real long “aaall” –
So I’ll go back and… let’s see…

[Audio for the above (including Bunting’s renditions of Campion) can be heard here, beginning at the beginning of the tape and concluding at approximately seven minutes in]

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