Thursday 24 January 2008

Name Dropping

Yesterday I spoke to Professor Geoffrey Hill.

When I mentioned this to colleagues
there were gasps and murmurs:

“The Greatest Living English Poet”
“The heir to Milton and Coleridge;
Eliot, Poe and Pound.”

I was impressed
by the depth of my ignorance
and decided to do some research.

His poems are indigestible, solid with historical allusions.
His dislike of readers, renowned.

I cannot pretend to have a critical eye
And yet, reading small sections of his work,
I glimpse the magnitude of his art,
The page glittering with extraordinary words.

Not to skip detail, such as finches brisking
on stripped haw-bush;
the watered gold that February drains
out of the overcast; nomadic aconites
that in their trek recover beautifully
our sense of place,
the snowdrop fettled on its hinge, waxwings
becoming sportif in the grimy air.

A Treatise of Civil Power
Yale University Press


blackbird said...

It's early in the day for this.
For me.

BreadBox said...

I read these discussions with friends about "good" poetry. I am, after all, a bear of very little brain, on these matters, and don't understand why, to be good, it has to be incomprehensible.
Or in some cases, apparently devoid of meaning unless endowed with it by the reader.
Give me Archy and Mehitabel, or Practical Cats any day, and I'll happily read them to the little ones, and help them learn the lyrical loveliness of language.

How was Professor Hill in person?

BreadBox said...

In the above, (read) should be (have). Otherwise it is apparently devoid of meaning.

Anonymous said...

clunk ! ;-)

dragonfly said...

I'm more Spike Milligan...but then I'm not a romantic...

dottycookie said...

Did you have a good conversation? I would have been horrendously out of my depth ...

Unknown said...

Thats a great picture. He sounds interesting!

Threadspider said...

I really like some of the lines in this poem and intend to attach them to a picture of aconites! I am so ignorant I have never heard of him, so will also do research. Thanks for a great post.

Ginnie said...

Another gap in my knowledge! You, MrsM, have your own poetry; I especially like "The page glittering with extraordinary words." If he doesn't like his readers, how was he to you (since you didn't seem to be a reader before you met him)?