154. (William Wordsworth)

For Wordsworth, the greater existential, ontological unity of which humankind forms a part at times coincides with the longing for division, and at times coincides with the helplessness of isolation and alienation; the failure of human society and actions exacerbates both the longing and the helplessness, which are to some extent inevitable, but it is also the secret strength of the sympathetic imagination and the world … Continue reading 154. (William Wordsworth)

119. (Geoffrey Hill)

We are accustomed to hearing that Geoffrey Hill makes few concessions to readers, that he bristles at accommodation, compromise, and accessibility. And indeed he does in many circumstances. But in other regards, he is astonishingly accessible and accommodating; his poetry opens for a reader, as no other poetry no, a particular, convincing and moving experience of language, one that allows for readers to feel the … Continue reading 119. (Geoffrey Hill)

118. (Geoffrey Hill)

Geoffrey Hill died last week, on June 30, at age 84. Nobody doubts that he wrote some of the greatest English poetry of the twentieth century; but the critical consensus on Hill’s poetry falls out of harmony when confronted with the collections that coincided with its close. William Logan, one of Hill’s stauncher American admirers, is disparaging: “The caterwauling of “The Triumph of Love” (1998), … Continue reading 118. (Geoffrey Hill)

104. (Geoffrey Hill)

In the late collections where Eugenio Montale is most present, in translation and as an interlocutor, Hill’s voice finds most relief from its gnarled self-doubts and thorny metaphysics. Montale stands at the center of Al Tempo de’ Tremuoti, in a series of six translations (Hill calls them “variants”) of “Il Gallo Cedrone,” from La Bufera e Altro. Il Gallo Cedrone Dove t’abbatti dopo il breve … Continue reading 104. (Geoffrey Hill)

68. (Robert Lowell)

Here is another attempt at the Lowell muddle, since the last was either abstruse or wrong. Lowell’s poetry can profitably be read against his modernist masters, especially Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot (who also reaches Lowell by way of the Agrarians). Behind these modernists are the Victorians and Romantics–and picking and choosing from the influences of the nineteenth-century, Eliot and Pound and their followers propose … Continue reading 68. (Robert Lowell)

43. (Geoffrey Hill)

Some types of ambiguity in Geoffrey Hill’s Al Tempo de’ Tremuoti.  The opening section, followed by commentary: A signal pre-election to free choice: The mother’s face foresuffering, the child Big, almost unmanageably held, Such attestation in God’s passive voice. . The seraphs chime their wings of florid stance. Things are as strange as need be, never rise Up from this blur and cleave of centuries; Grace condescending … Continue reading 43. (Geoffrey Hill)