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This report is taken from PN Review 216, Volume 40 Number 4, March - April 2014.

Bunting’s Own Active Anthology Pamela Coren
I had for some time wanted a copy of Ezra Pound’s Active Anthology, published by Faber in 1933. In 2008 Don Share’s blog told me that ‘Seven hundred and fifty of the fifteen hundred and sixteen sets of sheets for Active Anthology were lost in a bombing during World War II, making it, in the end, a rather rare book.’ The copies on the market were beyond my price, until this summer, when I was able to buy a copy via Amazon from a dealer based in Edinburgh. The book arrived, in good clean condition, as the book dealers say. Inside the back cover was the tiny sticker of the Gotham Book Mart in New York.

And then there was this: on the flyleaf Basil Bunting’s poem ‘These tracings from a world that’s dead’ had been handwritten in black ink with a dedication ‘For Violet Harris’. There is a gap between lines four and five, making it a two-stanza poem. Beneath the poem is the signature ‘Basil Bunting’ and ‘Methil 1941’. The Harris family home was in Wellesley Road, Methil, just south of Leven on the coast of East Scotland, where Bunting was posted after joining the RAF in 1940 and put to learning to handle barrage balloons. The signature matches that of Bunting on his Maltese ID card of July 1943, and the handwriting of the poem is a formal version of Bunting’s hand as seen in other documents. Long downstrokes replace some of the usual loops, but the hand is recognisable as Bunting’s: he is making a fair copy ...

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