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This article is taken from PN Review 98, Volume 20 Number 6, July - August 1994.

on Geoffrey Hill's Decade of Reticence S.J. Ellis

'Scenes with Harlequins', Times Literary Supplement, 9-15 February 1990, p.137.
'Carnival', Sunday Correspondent, 11 November 1990, p. 44.
'Ritornelli', 'Sobieski's Shield', 'Behemoth', 'Carnival' (reprinted), Agenda, Vol.30, Nos.1-2, Spring-Summer 1992 (Geoffrey Hill Sixtieth Birthday Issue), pp.5-8.
'Cycle', Times Literary Supplement, 25 December 1992, p.4.
'Of Coming-into-Being and Passing-Away', 'Psalms of Asizze', 'Sorrel', Agenda, Vol.31, No.3, Autumn 1993.
(A new sequence of poems will be published in the Summer-Autumn 1994 edition of Agenda).

It is now ten years since the publication of Geoffrey Hill's last full collection, The Mystery of the Charity of Charles péguy. In that time, only a few new poems have appeared in British periodicals.1

The first stretch of silence lasted six years, from the verse meditation on the French poet Péguy until the next poem in print, 'Scenes with Harlequins'. This took as its dedicatee and subject the Russian Symbolist poet and playwright, Aleksandr Blok.2 Hill's poetic temperament has always been marked by an acute historical consciousness and a preoccupation with literary predecessors. The differences in outlook and circumstance between Hill and these precursors are as significant as the affinities: his guarded tributes express wariness regarding the mystical and political philosophies of both Péguy and Blok. Each of them evolved a personal but influential poetics incorporating certain anachronistic and potentially dangerous viewpoints, the consequences of which Hill considers in his poems: how Péguy's utterances implicated him in the assassination of the socialist deputy Jean Jaurès, and how Blok ...


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