R.I.P. Geoffrey Hill

Geoffrey Hill
Geoffrey Hill (1932-2016)

I just learned a month late that poet Geoffrey Hill has died.

I was paging through an issue of the Economist, and just about to toss it when the story of Hill’s death caught my eye.

“The Discomfort of Words. Geoffrey Hill, an English poet, died on June 30th at 84” the headline read.

The story filled an entire page.

I did not know much about his work, but the first line of the story told me I needed to get to know him.

Hill was given a book of Victorian verse at age 10.

“It was, he said, like falling in love.”

He had the reputation of being different and difficult.  A poet who scorned the modern trend towards confessional poetry, and who tackled age-old moral concerns.

You knew Hill was bound to make a stir from the opening lines of his first book.  In For the Unfallen, he wrote,

Against the burly air I strode,
Crying the miracles of God.

My favorite poem of Hill’s — so far — is In Memory of Jane Fraser. It’s wonderful elegy in just four haunting verses.

I’m looking forward to discovering more of his jewels.