And was the holy Lamb of God,
On Englands pleasant pastures seen!
- And did those feet, William Blake

lørdag 23. juni 2018

History as Poetry - a poem by Geoffrey Hill

Geoffrey Hill is one of my favourite poets in any language,and reading him takes my mind back to the spring of 2011 when I was reading his poems while beginning in earnest to establish myself as a medievalist in the second semester of my MA studies. Much has changed since then, including myself, and the England I explored while exploring his poems now seems like a lost dream, a broken promise, in part due to the political development, in part because I have become disenchanted with English academia, in part because of personal disappointmnts. I was a staunch anglophile once, and I'm still fond of many things English, not least the many medieval buildings I have not yet seen in the flesh - or in the stone, rather - but the youthful, all-encompassing excitement of those spring days of 2011 is now a thing of the past. Occasionally, however, when reading Geoffrey Hill's early poems, I find my way back to that excitement, I reconnect with those feelings of wonder and novelty that made me love England and that made me long for it, and thus, for a brief window of time, as my eyes scan the lines of the poem, I relive that love of England that I no longer can claim.

History as poetry

Poetry as salutation; taste
Of Pentecost's ashen feast. Blue wounds.
The tongue's atrocities. Poetry
Unearths from among the speechless dead

Lazarus mystified, common man
Of death. The lily rears its gouged face
From the provided loam. Fortunate
Auguries; whirrings;tarred golden dung:

'A resurgence' as they say. The old
Laurels wagging with the nw: Selah!
Thus laudable the trodden bone thus
Unanswerable the knack of tongues.

- From King Log (1968)

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