Category Archives: Geoffrey Hill

Citations I

This not quite knowing what the earth requires:
earthiness, earthliness, or things ethereal;
whether spiritus mundi notices bad faith
or if it cares; defraudings at the source;
the bare usury of the species. In the end
one is as broken as the vows and tatters,
petitions with blood on them, the charred prayers
spiralling godwards on intense thermals.

No decent modicum, agreed. I’d claim
the actual is at once cruder and finer,
without fuss carrying its own weight. Still
I think of poetry as it was said
of Alanbrooke’s war diary: a work done
to gain, or regain, possession of himself,
as a means of survival and, in that sense,
a mode of moral life.

— Geoffrey Hill


Lachrimae antiquae novae

 Crucified Lord, so naked to the world,
you live unseen within that nakedness,
consigned by proxy to the judas-kiss
of our devotion, bowed beneath the gold,


with re-enactments, penances foretold:
scentings of love across a wilderness
of retrospection, wild and objectless
longings incarnate in the carnal child.


Beautiful for themselves the icons fade;
the lions and the hermits disappear.
Triumphalism feasts on empty dread,


fulfilling triumphs of the festal year.
We find you wounded by the token spear.
Dominion is swallowed with your blood.


— Geoffrey Hill


It is terrible to desire and not possess, and terrible to possess and not desire.

— Yeats

‘One cannot lose what one has not possessed.’
So much for that abrasive gem.
I can lose what I want. I want you.

— Geoffrey Hill

God’s little mountain

Below, the river scrambled like a goat
Dislodging stones. The mountain stamped its foot,
Shaking, as from a trance. And I was shut
With wads of sound into a sudden quiet.

I thought the thunder had unsettled heaven;
All was so still. And yet the sky was cloven
By flame that left the air cold and engraven.
I waited for the word that was not given,

Pent up into a region of pure force,
Made subject to the pressure of the stars;
I saw the angels lifted like pale straws;
I could not stand before those winnowing eyes

And fell, until I found the world again.
Now I lack grace to tell what I have seen;
For though the head frames words the tongue has none.
And who will prove the surgeon to this stone?

— Geoffrey Hill