3. (Geoffrey Hill)

And to round out a lazy Sunday’s work, another purpose to which this, my blog, shall be set: a sort of Reading Journal. Christina Rossetti published one, Time Flies; mine will differ–since I don’t read much by way of biblical texts, and since mine is not a true journal or diary, appearing by whim rather than by the day. But from time to time, as time takes wing and swoops and slows and speeds, a place to find words for thoughts on what I’m reading. The Big Arrival of my week: the new Geoffrey Hill Broken Hierarchies:Collected Poems, ed. Kenneth Haynes, out in the UK in November, but, after several delays, only Stateside as of last week–and Amazon still hasn’t got it in stock. I had to go far afield–to Barnes and Noble online (still there; with probably only slightly higher traffic than this blog)–to find a copy.

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.


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