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A Treatise of Civil Power [Paperback]

Geoffrey Hill
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
RRP: 9.99
Price: 8.63 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

2 Aug 2007
Geoffrey Hill's latest book takes its title from an obscure pamphlet of Milton's, a poet in whose footsteps Hill can justly claim to follow. Again we confront his usual obsessions — language, governance, war, politics, the contemporary and classical worlds and the nature of poetry itself. This is without a doubt the work of a major poet, writing at the height of his powers.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 51 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (2 Aug 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014103226X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141032269
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 13 x 1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 628,990 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Praise for Geoffrey Hill:

'Hill so entirely eclipses most of his contemporaries that it seems meaningless to rank him in relation to them. Trumpets should be blown, garlands made . . . his greatness is as certain as the poets he invokes' Daily Telegraph

'Hill is often and rightly said to be the greatest living English poet . . . [He] can write lines with a deep gravelly ring to them which could only come from powerful thinking about the English language and its inner energies. He can describe England with a warm depth that no other living poet can match . . . brilliant writing' Guardian

About the Author

Born in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, in 1932, Geoffrey Hill is the author of three books of criticism and twelve books of poetry, including The Triumph of Love, co-winner of the Heinemann Award. His Collected Poems, Canaan, The Triumph of Love, Speech! Speech!, The Orchards of Syon, Scenes from Comus and Without Title are all published by Penguin.

Geoffrey Hill currently lives in Cambridge, UK. He is Honorary Fellow of Keble College, Oxford; Honorary Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge; and since 1996 Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Matter of England 24 Mar 2008
By Withnail67 TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
It's very hard to write a review that does justice to the intellectual content of Geoffrey Hill's recent work. He is, without doubt, one of the singular poetic voices of his generation. However, reading the poetry, and being complicit as a modern inhabitant of Hill's vision of England places the reader in a location that is neither comfortable nor secure. As he points out in the poem `On Reading Milton and the English Revolution', `England / can do without most of us'.

This is unusual because Hill's work, while being powerfully rooted in theology and history, and in the tonal music of sixteenth and seventeenth century English, is also securely provincial English in its location. Hill's poetry, especially in the 1970 `Mercian Hymns' is a voice for a version of the West Midlands, a borderland caught between ancient landscapes and the wild forces of modern industrialism, haunted in this volume and elsewhere by the long shadow of dark age kingdoms, and the cultural and trading energy of Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter.

Hill's sensibility is also haunted by the two world wars; his is a Worcestershire whose woods and copses evoke the shattered trees of Passchendaele and the Somme. His recent volumes share with Tom Paulin's `The Invasion Handbook' the poetic power of World War 2 in the modern mind. In this collection, the war is connoted by references to Alanbrookes' diary, Werner von Braun and Willy Brandt's penance at the Warsaw Ghetto memorial in 1970.

The dominant figure of the collection is Milton, who, on his 400th anniversary, permeates the collection from its title (taken from one of his pamphlets) to the political and spiritual imperatives it embodies.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An exploration of the mental landscape 12 Oct 2011
Format:Paperback
I have found this work more accessible than the Day Books published so far in that he explores ideas in a more discursive manner that gives thought, lyricism and discourse a strong and balanced role here. The poems work more in the manner of the moderns like Yeats and Eliot without the contorted twisting of syntax and line that comes after in Clavics and other published excerpts from the new work I've seen. I enjoyed the meditative, resonant quality of the concepts and imagery presented here.
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gotta love the title 12 Jun 2008
By Sarang Gopalakrishnan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Geoffrey Hill's characteristic attitude towards things, a sort of disarming grumpiness, is less evident in this volume than in the previous few. The book is still somewhat daunting, and much of it is both obscure (e.g. the reader is invited to overhear Hill talking to himself about Burke) and rhythmically inert. But there are several good poems. My favorites are the poems about Wyatt, and the beautiful one about Ben Jonson's "Masques" (note: if you don't recognize these names, you probably shouldn't waste your time on this book) --

"I see Inigo Jones's great arches
in my mind's eye, his water-inky clouds,
the paraphernalia of a royal masque;
dung and detritus in the crazy streets,
the big coaches bellying in their skirts
pothole to pothole, and the men of fire,
the link-boys slouching and the rainy wind."

Another poem I like is "Coda," which begins like this --

"Shredded--my kite--in the myriad-snagged
crabapple crown, the cane cross-piece flailing;
a dark wind visible even deep in the hedge.
I knew then how much my eros
was emptiness, thorn-fixed on desolation,"

And then there's this memorable and much-quoted bit from the "title poem" ("A Precis, or Memorandum, of C.P.") --

"The watered gold that February drains
out of the overcast...
the snowdrop fettled on its hinge, waxwings
becoming sportif in the grimy air."

I could go on excerpting the good bits -- which are not entirely unrepresentative; if you're patient and reasonably interested in English history, this book is worth your time. If not, Hill has written books that are _primarily_ about other things, which you might prefer ("The Triumph of Love" about WW2, "Mercian Hymns" about the Anglo-Saxons, "The Mystery of the Charity of Charles Peguy" about Charles Peguy, etc.).

Also, Hill's early poems -- up through "Tenebrae" (1978) -- are significantly more inviting than his later ones. If you haven't read those, you should, especially "Mercian Hymns."
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