And what a copy to have: gorgeous paper, fragrance of delectable contemplation, a spine built to open and shut and open and shut and stay open, resting flat on a lap or desk, with any of the 973 pages before me. Best of all the poems themselves, many worked over, revised substantially–all vigilantly and diligently corrected by the poet and editor–and hordes entirely new.
Haven’t done much reading as of yet, but the author’s biography on the dust-jacket–in fact the entire dust-jacket–sure to provide a point of discussion for a future dissertation, or article, or essay: “Geoffrey Hill, the son of a police constable, was born in Worcestershire in 1932. He was educated at Bromsgrove County High School and at Keble College, Oxford…” That patronymic epithet: the pride, the thumb between the teeth, the reminder that class means something special in Britain, that though it has evolved through Hill’s life and career, the tag of class, the consciousness that some place great weight by the tag, that the tag is assigned and not chosen, has been with him through it. Then there’s “police”–the Victorian institution of the State, a hierarchical order in the biographical blurb on Broken Hierarchies, with its cover a painting of Queen Victorian, with an astonishing sequence of poems, “An Apology for the Revival of Christian Architecture in England,” taking the weight, at times with skepticism, at times with sardonic contempt, at times with guarded nostalgia, for the Victorian past, at times also with respect for that past, and always respectful of the distance of the past and the difficulty of laying one’s sight or words on it.