Friday, June 18, 2010

Geoffrey Hill is the new Oxford professor of poetry

Congratulations to Geoffrey Hill on becoming Oxford's new professor of poetry. As Harry Mount says, he is "worthy to follow in the footsteps of Cecil Day-Lewis, W.H. Auden, Robert Graves and Edmund Blunden".

Perhaps Hill can be obscurantist at times, but I am devoted to his Mercian Hymns. These verses blend Midland history and his own boyhood with wonderful facility:

King of the perennial holly-groves, the riven sand-
....stone: overlord of the M5: architect of the his-
....toric rampart and ditch, the citadel at Tamworth,
....the summer hermitage in Holy Cross: guardian of
....the Welsh Bridge and the Iron Bridge: contractor the desirable new estates: saltmaster: money-
....changer: commissioner for oaths: martyrologist:
....the friend of Charlemagne.

'I liked that,' said Offa, 'sing it again.'

See an article by Adam Thorpe for more on Mercian Hymns.

Hill's September Song has featured on this blog too.

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