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.