The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

June 18, 2017

June 18, 1932

Geoffrey Hill (June 16, 1932 to June 30, 2016) is sometimes even called the greatest British poet since the second World War. A main theme is captured in these lines:

Platonic England, house of solitudes,
rests in its laurels and its injured stone,
replete with complex fortunes that are gone,
beset by dynasties of moods and clouds.

These lines, from Mr. Hill's 1978 collection "Tenebrae," also suggest his favorite themes. He is deeply engaged with English history, including church history, and with the landscape that is history's theater. At a time when English poetry was becoming more modest, confessional, and cosmopolitan, Mr. Hill's high seriousness and implied conservatism made him distinctly unfashionable.

The same citation mentions a shift in his later career:

Sometimes, the manic energy of Mr. Hill's writing sends it careening over the cliff of sense, so that all the reader can glean is a mood:

Ruin smell of cat's urine with a small gin.
Develop the anagram — care to go psychic?
Psych a new age, the same old dizzy spell.
Force-field of breakdown near the edge.

Whether Mr. Hill's late style is an improvement on his early style remains an open question. What is beyond doubt is that the transformation has made Mr. Hill one of the most fascinating poets at work today ....

According to Harold Bloom:

“Geoffrey Hill is the central poet-prophet of our augmenting darkness, and inherits the authority of the visionaries from Dante and Blake on to D.H. Lawrence.”

Well Bloom almost got it, he should have left out that last comparison. But we have set the stage for a picture of Hill, his wife Alice Goodman, and one of their cats.

This particular picture has been poorly, I hope not maliciously, edited, adding a tail to the left side of the cat. The original is here and I invite you to see the original.  Which contains the details that the setting is their Cambridge home in 1984.

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