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Selected Poems Hardcover – March 31, 2009
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Top Customer Reviews
Yet the very things that make his work so consistently good (and I can't think of another poet more consistent) also make his work too demanding to appeal to any but the most dedicated readers of poetry. Like Alvin Feinman (a great poet whom he otherwise doesn't much resemble), Hill demands much from his readers-- possibly too much. He is pretty much guaranteeing himself the moniker of "poet's poet" (not a label to sneeze at, of course, but not perhaps the best way to broadcast a poetics of such moral seriousness). Still, the device of a "selected poems" keeps things from becoming too overwhelming, giving us an overview of his entire career and, therefore, a chronology to help us along.
If anyone wants to read a wonderful, if demanding, contemporary poet then Geoffrey Hill is your man.
Just one comment on Hill's much-commented on difficulty. Hill himself has said it best, when he remarked (in the Paris Review) that people seem to demand accessibility in poetry, but not in other forms of art. We experience real difficulty everyday in life, so why should poetry be easy? Its allusions can be obscure, but more often public and, if one were ignorant, leading to amazing discoveries. In this day of Google and Wikipedia, it's hard to call such things difficult.
What might be lastingly difficult is Hill's moral stance. I for one find it hard to care about some of his themes - but it doesn't matter, does it? Hill is more contemporary than many experimental poets; and as a practiced rhetorician, he's never less than engaging. Anyway, just wanted to join the chorus of praise...
This book includes work from eleven Hill titles; two in their entirety--("Mercian Hymns" and "The Mystery of the Charity of Charles Péguy"). While it is true that one needs a bit more than a working knowledge of craft, prosody, and even some words that aren't in most dictionaries ("claustral","atrorubent"). He is heavy handed without being pretentious, a moralist without being pompous; the hostility to his work is amongst critics is due to one of two things; he will not cease to be himself, and never once steps back from the "bard" role as poet.
The series of poems that really delivers for me, in this collection, are his extended elegies to the German resisters of the Third Reich. The compact, sparse, and uncompromising beauty of these pieces are unrivalled in my mind by anything I have read in the past couple of years. Dedicated to Claus Von Stauffenberg's adjutant Hans Bernard Haeften (9 October 1908 - 21 July 1944) and Carl Friedrich Goerdeler (31 July 1884 - 2 February 1945) who were executed quite horribly for their part in the attempted assassination of Adolf Hitler. Who today can equal these lines?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Hill is a magnificent poet who wrote very little poetry for many years. Then, as self-admitted, he was given Prozac for depression and it liberated (and lubricated) his poetic... Read morePublished on August 31, 2012 by inthefoam
The other reviewers of this compilation of poems note that the author is not accessible. He is a "poet's poet" and "not for everyone". Read morePublished on September 28, 2010 by Patrick McCormack