Milan: [Stampato nelle Officine de la Grafica Moderna], 1930. First edition. , 7-30,  pp. Stapled printed wrappers. Some wear to edges, light creasing, overall a very nice copy. Signed by Bunting on the title-page and dated 1976. Laid in a Typed Letter Signed on Bunting’s stationary in an air mail envelope also printed with his address, in which he responds to an inquiry about acquiring copies of his earlier books (“Redimiculum Matellarum has become an exceedingly rare book, and I have heard of it fetching extremely high prices.”) Housed in a custom folding clamshell box.
Bunting’s first book, a true rarity of twentieth-century poetry. The book was privately published in Milan and subsidized by Margaret de Silver, the widow of a wealthy American businessman; in his preface Bunting acknowledges her contribution to these “byproducts of an interrupted and harassed apprenticeship” and thanks her “for bailing me out of Fleet Street: after two years convalescence from an attack of journalism I am beginning to recover my honesty.” The Latin title amusingly translates as “A Necklace of Chamberpots.” Other than a review by Bunting’s friend Louis Zukofsky in Poetry in June 1931 (the review observant rather than evaluative), it seems to have gone otherwise unnoticed.
Bunting (1900-1985) was a major figure in Modernist poetry, acclaimed first by Pound and Zukofsky and later by younger writers, but not fully recognized until 1966 with the publication of Briggflatts, which Cyril Connolly called “the finest long poem to have been published in England since T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets.” Pound was an early and important influence, but Bunting’s work was a more distinctly British form of Poundian modernism; the critic Martin Seymour-Smith noted that Bunting “was the only English poet to solve the problem of how to assimilate the lively spirit of American poetry without losing his own sense of identity.” Bunting met Pound in Paris in 1922 and Pound swiftly secured a job for him at Ford Madox Ford’s transatlantic review. Pound mentioned Bunting in several of the later cantos (“Basil says / they beat drums for three days / till all the drumheads were busted” Canto 81). Briggflatts is ranked alongside the Cantos, Paterson, The Waste Land, and other cornerstones of modernism. After this book appeared in 1930, Bunting did not publish another collection until 1950, and many readers were unaware even of its existence. OCLC locates eleven copies in North America. Guedalla, Bunting, A1. Item #2232