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This article is taken from PN Review 249, Volume 46 Number 1, September - October 2019.

on Geoffrey Hill’s Baruch
With the Gnostic Justin
Jon Glover
Geoffrey Hill, The Book of Baruch by the Gnostic Justin, edited by Kenneth Haynes (OUP), 160pp, £20

Section 36 of The Book of Baruch by the Gnostic Justin first appeared in Stand, Vol. 15 (2) in 2017. It is one of the longest numbered sections of the 271 in the book. Within it, there are seven sub-sections, each marked off by a line of small points or stops or dots. These, my alternative descriptors, may have some significance. The whole sequence, and each component section, is full of self-doubt and systematic querying. Though, and here is a typical judgement or reaction that readers may make, nothing is finally divisible, nothing separate, nothing definable except in its dramatic existence. The dots (modern word-processing lingo), points (indicators, directions, punctuation marks), or stops (think of an old Telegram), are fairly faint in the printed text as though inviting doubt – surely no stopping and re-starting, no definitive dividing lines between each period of thought.

I had the great good luck to be able to attend all but one (the first) of Geoffrey Hill’s lectures as Oxford Professor of Poetry. Some aspects of the ‘content’ of the lectures, and of their surroundings, seem to parallel the poems of The Book of Baruch. Firstly, the lectures were partially experimental. What was ‘conveyed’ was not the voicing of a pre-arranged or established thesis, not the reading out of an article or book chapter to be published in time for the next Research Excellence Framework. The ...

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