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New and Collected Poems, 1952-­1992 Paperback – February 24, 1994


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Paperback, February 24, 1994
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 228 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin (February 24, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0395680867
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395680865
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,948,135 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In seeing works from all stages of his long career, readers can easily chart the progress of a highly regarded British poet attempting to break free of cultural bondage. Early works, written in rhymed quatrains and sonnets, are deeply religious, exemplifying a society where "theology makes good bedside reading." Hill ( Tenebrae ) is by no means the passive receptor of church dogma, however; as early as his second book, he states flatly, "Cleansing has become killing"; meditations on the Holocaust are scattered throughout. A wide selection of elegies includes a sequence eulogizing those beheaded in the 15th century. He frequently draws inspiration from the works of other writers (Aleksandr Blok, Holderlin). While the volume is footnoted, there are references missing that might have assisted readers, such as a note about who Charles Peguy is in the long poem about his life. Mid-career, Hill bursts from his constrained poetic forms into the surreal and often oddly syntaxed prose poems of Mercian Hymns. These, along with new poems (presumably written over the past five years, when Hill has been teaching in America) show the poet at his loosest and, for American readers, his best.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Many of the poems in Hill's seventh book are imbued with something rare in modern poetry, a deep religious sensibility, seen here in such poems as "Genesis," "Canticle for Good Friday," and "Pictures of a Nativity." Hill, who is British, writes eloquently in traditional forms, including sonnets and elegies, with an undercurrent of passion running through each line. As can be expected of a collection, the choice of subject matter is eclectic, ranging from God, love, childhood, imagination, and war to poems about Merlin and Churchill's funeral. The best poems, including "The Guardians," "The White Ship," and "Wreaths," reflect an island poet's sensibility. Thus, in "The Guardians" the old watch the young leave in sailboats each morning, then later "Quietly they wade the disturbed shore;/ Gather the dead as the first dead scrape home." Recommended for all poetry collections.
- Doris Lynch, Oakland P.L., Cal.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Nessander VINE VOICE on July 3, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Here, collected in one volume, are Geoffrey Hill's first five books of poetry (For the Unfallen, King Log, Mercian Hymns, Tenebrae, and the Mystery of the Charity of Charles Peguy), plus a few early versions of poems that later appeared in Canaan. For those who are not yet familiar with Hill's works, this would be the obvious place to start, since his last two works (Speech! Speech!, and The Triumph of Love) are both difficult book length poems, and "Canaan" is not necessarily any easier.
Not that these poems are easy, not even the ones Hill wrote when he was 19 (like "Genesis", the opening poem of the collection). What they are is challenging, beautiful, thoughtful, at times meditative, at times lyrical, often skeptical, almost always wonderful.
These are poems written for those who love poetry and don't mind if it's hard, who can reread a poem ten times in order to appreciate it, who have the patience to learn to read a real poet. Although this book is only 200+ pages, there is a lifetime (almost!) of reflection contained within it, from the early poems reflecting on art, responsibility, history and war in "For the Unfallen", to the funeral music of "King Log", the beautiful prose poems of "Mercian Hymns", and the deeply religious "Tenebrae".
Give it some time. Don't judge it too quickly. Hill will certainly be remembered as one of the greatest poets of the 20th and early 21st centuries, as one who recognized the heavy responsibility of a poet in our times.
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13 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Dominic Fox on August 20, 2000
Format: Paperback
Or a nobbly vernacular? Perhaps a knackered vernacular. Hill's poetry speaks a language not far removed from the ordinary, right up against it even: "not strangeness, but strange likeness". Uncommonly strange. "Simple, sensuous and direct": a likely story. For "direct" read "dialect", in a poor comedian's travesty of a Chinese accent. But this is poetry that goes to the roots, by one route or another, like an underground map of the English language. There is - believe me - nothing abstract or effete about it (laughter). What you have to know to read it is how to go on reading even when you don't know what you have to know. Now go and read it.
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful By wjg@brooktrout.com on January 14, 1998
Format: Paperback
Geoffrey Hill is among the best three or four British poets of his generation. His poems are challenging: they require a strong knowledge of history, religion, and literary allusions, as well as the decipherment of thorny syntax and obscure symbolism. But to interpret these traits as weaknesses would be mistaken. One can continue to read verse in the colloquial, Blake/Wordsworth/Frost/Williams tradition ... or one can tackle poetry which requires real effort to understand it. Hill offers the latter.
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