Reading “For the Unfallen”

With both war and religion as major themes the subjects of For The Unfallen by Geoffrey Hill are heavy going. The hard rhyme feels a little clumsy in places and there are some overly traditional uses of style and form. The choices made were not very original and it feels like he is covering old ground without ever really showing his own feelings on a topic.

Nations and generations: its cultural
Or trade skeletons such hand-picked bone:
Flaws in the best, revised science marks down:
Witness many devices;

-Of Commerce and Society: II The Lowlands of Holland

My favourite poems were In Memory of Jane Fraser and The Bibliographers. Having read this collection a couple of times I definitely prefer his later works. 


3 thoughts on “Reading “For the Unfallen”

  1. Hi, I took time to read a little about Hill. Proclaimed as ‘he is our greatest living poet’ has me intrigued, especially so when Ms Duffy, with her pure uncomplicated lines is our Poet Laureate. War and religion may not be original themes but this could be said about love and death. But I do understand about cumbersome lines, something I am often guilty of.
    Thanks for taking time to read my post and I would value your critique.

    1. Hi Talia,
      I think reading Hill in order is fascinating because his style has evolved so much. Of course it’s all so personal! Finding and knowing what traps you often fall into when writing is really difficult and once you’ve done it your work always improves, I wish I was better at doing that!

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