The Orchards of Syon Paperback – 5 Sep 2002
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About the Author
Geoffrey Hill was born in Bromsgrove, Worcs, in 1932, the son of a local policeman. He taught for many years at the Universities of Leeds and Cambridge, but moved to the USA in 1988 and is currently Professor of Literature and Religion at the University of Boston. He is widely regarded as one of our greatest poets.
Top customer reviews
Orchards of Syon is about Grace. You may not know what that is, or be dubious of its relevance to you. I believe effort with this text shows you what it is through feeling, as opposed to learning. Indeed the ultimate value of this poetry for me is its down to earth, everyday relevance.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Once again (the other time was in "Speech! Speech!") Hill forgoes the sweeping lyricism of "The Triumph of Love" in favor of a focus on pitch rather than tone (think of Hopkins). At times, awkward, flailing about, reaching and overreaching, or falling short, "The Orchards of Syon" nevertheless achieves at moments a poignancy and precision that rewards close (very close) readings.
Hill was born in 1932 in England, but now teaches at Boston University; his topics are 16th/17th c. English poetry, but also Hopkins and 20th century poetry, and he is "Professor of Religion and Literature". Unsurprisingly then, this poem delves into the question of Augustine vs Pelagius; Bradwardine vs Ockham, that is to say, divine will vs human "free" will.
Beware, this is dense stuff, and will require time and effort to be unpacked, unravelled, understood. It is a poem to be read over years, not days or months. As Hill writes in section VIII:
The curlew's pitch distracts us from her nest.
But: end this for all in some shape other
than vexed bafflement; each triangular
wall-cope cladded with tight moss
springy as a terrier's pelt, buttonhole
emerald polypodae, sprung tremblers
within the burring air of the fell?
Amen to that, I say.
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