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Geoffrey Hill and his Contexts

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Edited By Piers Pennington and Matthew Sperling

Geoffrey Hill is one of the most significant poets currently at work in the English language. The essays gathered in this book present a number of new contexts in which to explore a wide range of his writings, from the poems he wrote as an undergraduate to the recent volumes A Treatise of Civil Power (2007) and Collected Critical Writings (2008). Connections are made between the early and the later poetry, and between the poetry and the criticism, and archival materials are considered along with the published texts. The essays also make comparisons across disciplines, discussing Hill’s work in relation to theology, philosophy and intellectual history, to literature from other languages, and to the other arts. In doing so, they cast fresh light upon Hill’s dense, original and sometimes challenging writings, opening them up in new ways for all readers of his work.

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Piers Pennington - The Manuscripts and Composition of ‘Genesis’ 25

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Piers Pennington The Manuscripts and Composition of ‘Genesis’ Geof frey Hill introduced his poem ‘Genesis’ during a reading of his work in the chapel of Keble College, Oxford, with a recollection of what he believed to be its earliest stirrings – the young poet in his second year of undergraduate study, a handful of poems in various university magazines to his name, is looking out of the window of his room in college, with its view over Liddon Quad: I can see myself…I was standing looking out and there was somebody I knew walking along the far side of Liddon…and as I looked, in a kind of vacant mood, a line and a half came into my head, and I didn’t know what to do with that line and a half. And then later, during vacations back in Worcestershire, I began to shape the poem that was ‘Genesis,’ and it appeared in an Oxford pamphlet, one of the Fantasy pamphlets, in the October or November of that same year, 1952.1 ‘Genesis’ would be published in The Paris Review the following year (where it was read by Allen Tate, who would write to Hill from Paris to congratulate him on the poem),2 and it would also be included in a number of antholo- gies before being preserved as the first poem in Hill’s first book of poems, 1959’s For the Unfallen – a position which it would occupy again in the Collected Poems of 1985.3 Hill in recent years...

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