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Canaan
     

Canaan

by Geoffrey Hill
 

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Here is public poetry of uncommon moral urgency: it bears witness to the sufferings of the innocent at the hands of history and to the martyrdom of those who have dared look history in the eye. "Rich, quarrelsome...handsome and brutish...Hill's poetry is the major achievement of late-twentieth-century verse," says The New Criterion. "Canaan is one of the few

Overview


Here is public poetry of uncommon moral urgency: it bears witness to the sufferings of the innocent at the hands of history and to the martyrdom of those who have dared look history in the eye. "Rich, quarrelsome...handsome and brutish...Hill's poetry is the major achievement of late-twentieth-century verse," says The New Criterion. "Canaan is one of the few serious books we will have to mark the millennium."

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Art of the highest lyric intensity . . . it stands with the work of Mandelstam and Montale." Boston Globe

"Among our finest poets, Geoffrey Hill is at present the most European - in his Latinity, in his dramatization of the Christian condition, in his political intensity." -- George Steiner

James Wood
No contemporary poet has a more contrite ear for the confessions, and the betrayals, of words....Being a communion with the dead, his verse is crowded with elegies...
London Review of Books
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The poet of this apocalyptic sixth collection looks down over the moral fate of England, inextricable from its own history and that of Europe, as Moses looked down from Pisgah. More savage in his indictments than Eliot in Four Quartets, Hill here seeks the nation's soul, repeatedly referred to as lost within a biblical "Dark-land," finds it and condemns it as beyond redemption: "Whereto England rous'd,/ ignorant, her inane/ Midas-like hunger: smoke/ engrossed, cloud clumbered,// a spectral people/ raking among the ash." That a late-20th-century poet would even attempt judgments on this order is rare enough, but that one could make the writing and reading of such poems seem not only relevant but essential to the good life, is a testament to Hill's extraordinary powers. Hill, who has been living and teaching in Boston since 1988, published a third of these 39 poems in 1994's New & Collected Poems but has here compiled a volume of dazzling coherence and cumulative effect. Be forewarned, though: those without a superlative command of the Bible, a knowledge of arcane figures in British and European history and some German and Latin should be prepared to read this collection in the reference room of a well-stocked library: "Time passes, strengthening and fading. Europa/ hetaera displays her parts, her triumph/ to tax even Drer's resplendent economy/ in rictus and graven sorrow." While addressed to a country whose history is quite different from our own, these poems, difficult as they are, speak to the collective spirit of a "star-gazing planet out of which/ lamentation is spun." (Oct.)
Wall Street Journal
"Hill's poems demand and reward reading upon reading: the ascent is steep,t he view austerely sublime."
The New Criterion
Rich, quarrelsome...handsome and brutish...Hill's poetry is the major achievement of late-20th-century verse....Canaan is one of the few serious books we will have to mark the millennium.
Denis Donoghue
[Hill] is a strange, rebarbative force in poetry, a lover of causes he fears are decisively lost, and for that reason he is dismayed, and then enraged. It is the rage that stays with us when we think of the poems.
The NY Review of Books

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780395924860
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
09/11/1998
Edition description:
1ST MARINE
Pages:
96
Sales rank:
1,073,776
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.25(d)

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Meet the Author


Geoffrey Hill was born in 1932, in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire. He was the author of five books of poetry, two volumes of literary criticism, and a stage version of Isben's poetic drama Brand. He taught in the University Professors Program at Boston University.

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