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Selected Poems Hardcover – March 31, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (March 31, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300121563
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300121568
  • Product Dimensions: 9.7 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #928,340 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Is Hill the greatest living English poet? Many critics (including Harold Bloom) have said as much, since the 1970s, when a few dense books inspired transatlantic admiration. After four decades with just five books, the past 10 years have seen Hill offer six more, including a trio of long works some liken to Dante and Blake. This first selected since 1994 (and first since his move to Yale as his U.S. publisher) should get instant critical attention (and sustained academic adoption) even though it contains no new work. Here, entire, is Mercian Hymns, with its gorgeously medievalized evocation of a rural English upbringing. Here, complete, are all three recent long poems, with their erudite mix of elegy and jeremiad: Age of mass consent: go global with her, Hill admonishes himself in Speech! Speech! Challenge satellite failure, the primal/ violent day-star moody as Herod./ Forget nothing. Reprieve no one. Here are his late intimations of mortality: Last days, last things, loom on: I write/ to astonish myself. Here, too, are the descriptive beauties that sparkle through even Hill's most rebarbative works: in a rural lane, the mass-produced wax berries, and perhaps/ an unearthed wasps' nest like a paper skull,/ where fragile cauls of cobweb start to shine. (Mar.)
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Review

“Hill is without question the strongest British poet currently writing, and his Selected Poems is an import of significance for American readers.”
The New Republic

(The New Republic)

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Absolutely recommended to any lover of poetry.
J from NY
Its allusions can be obscure, but more often public and, if one were ignorant, leading to amazing discoveries.
DabblerArts
For decades Geoffrey Hill has been called by critics the best active british poet.
Estragon

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Estragon on June 5, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For decades Geoffrey Hill has been called by critics the best active british poet. And they're right. What's more, barring the possible exceptions of John Ashbery and Derek Walcott, he might be the best living poet in the english language. His range of reference, philosophical weight, obvious technical accomplishment, and severe moral sensibility make Hill's work uncommonly rewarding.

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.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Sarang Gopalakrishnan on September 19, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The peculiar thing about Hill's career is that he wrote five books of poetry from 1950 to 1995, and has written six or seven more since 1995. The Selected is a good introduction to Hill's occasionally sloppy and prosaic later work: the poems included are a lot better than those left out; it turns out that there were, after all, some good poems in Hill's atrocious volume "Speech! Speech!" The Selected is a much more painless introduction to later Hill than the original volumes: with earlier Hill, the situation is somewhat different. A lot of good poems from "King Log" and "Tenebrae" -- poems with passages like this --

The pigeon purrs in the wood; the wood has gone;
dark leaves that flick to silver in the gust,
and the marsh-orchids and the heron's nest,
goldgrimy shafts and pillars of the sun.
...
`O clap your hands' so that the dove takes flight,
bursts through the leaves with an untidy sound,
plunges its wings into the green twilight

above this long-sought and forsaken ground,
the half-built ruins of the new estate,
warheads of mushrooms round the filter-pond.
("Idylls of the King")

have had to be left out, mostly, no doubt, because of a lack of space. This was unfortunate and somewhat avoidable as including the first five books entire would have added fewer than 100 pages to this book.

Hill's combination of lyricism, nostalgia, obscurity, religion, violence (he wrote a famous essay called "Poetry as menace and atonement"), and grumpiness is probably not everybody's cup of tea, but most people interested in poetry _as language_ will find something to enjoy in his work.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By DabblerArts on April 21, 2011
Format: Paperback
For those who haven't taken the plunge, this makes an excellent introduction to an exemplary body of poetry in our time. Whatever might be your taste or creed, it's phrase- and image-making that make a poet. As poetry, there's nothing in English today to rival what Hill has accomplished. It's a difficult style that requires tremendous effort, and has distinguished Hill from the first, all through the efflorescence of his later volumes. The Triumph of Love and Speech! Speech! show what a gift Hill has for capturing voices. I find The Orchard of Syon deeply moving, much less angry. The earlier poems are indispensible as well. I have a particular love for The Songbook of Sebastian Arrurruz - a heartbreaking sequence of love poems that someone, I can't remember who, has called Hill's happiest achievement. Mercian Hymn is simply astounding.

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...
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