A Treatise of Civil Power


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Geoffrey Hill

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A major gathering of new work by one of the greatest poets of the English language

Geoffrey Hill’s latest collection takes its title from a pamphlet by Milton of 1659 that attacks the concept of a state church as well as corruption in church governance. As Milton figures prominently here, so too must the Lord Protector, Cromwell, addressed in a memorable sonnet sequence. Also considered by Hill are other poets to whom he nods in gratitude, not just Milton and “my god” Ben Jonson, or Robert Herrick, or William Blake, but also Robert Lowell and, perhaps most interestingly, John Berryman, whose Dream Songs haunts this present collection.

Here we again confront the poet’s familiar obsessions—language, governance, war, politics, the contemporary and classical worlds, and the nature of poetry itself. John Hollander writes of Hill’s poems that they immerse themselves “in the matters of stones and rock, of permanence and historical change, martyrdoms and mockeries, and above all history and the monuments and residua of its consequences in places, things, and persons.” A Treatise of Civil Power is the work of a major poet at the height of his powers.

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 previous collection, Without Title, is published by Yale University Press.

“The most important and original body of poetry since Yeats.”—Peter McDonald, Literary Imagination

England’s best hope for the Nobel Prize.”—Grey Gowrie, Spectator

“The finest British poet of our time.”—John Hollander

“There is no one alive writing in our language about deeper or more important matters, no one saying such interesting things….the work of Hill is a phoenix rising from European ashes.”—A.N. Wilson, The Spectator

"Angry and learned, Hill's seventh book of new poems in ten years should delight his admirers; its self-contained pentameter stanzas, surprisingly friendly tone and gemlike images also make it the best way into the late work of this poet whom critics such as Harold Bloom have placed in the lineage of Milton and Blake."—Publishers Weekly

"Hill lies at the end of a long line of romantic poets with classical reserve—Coleridge and Eliot stagger through the background of this measured, brilliant book."—New York Times Book Review (Editors' Choice)

"A Treatise of Civil Power, like its predecessor Without Title, returns to the fertile densities that characterized Hill's earlier verse. English has rarely possessed a poet who listens so closely to its whispers, or is as willing to expose its secret etiquettes. . . . Hill is the most glorious poet of the English countryside since the first romantic started gushing about flowers. . . . A measured, brilliant book. . . . There are passages of stunning beauty."—William Logan, New York Times Book Review

"One can't help warming to Geoffrey Hill, a crusty curmudgeon of mind-boggling erudition. . . . A superb companion to his collected essays."—Diann Blakely, The Tennessean


The New Republic

ISBN: 9780300131499
Publication Date: January 7, 2008
64 pages, 5 1/4 x 8 1/2

Sales Restrictions: For sale in the U.S., its dependencies, Canada, and the Philippines only
Without Title

Geoffrey Hill

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