By Ann Hassan
Geoffrey Hill’s Speech! Speech! (2000) encapsulates thousand years’ worthy of utterances in a symbolic act of remembrance and expression of melancholy for the present age, during which we discover “our minds and ears fouled by way of degraded public speech—by media hype, insipid sermons, hole political rhetoric, and the ritual misuse of words.” via a hundred and twenty densely allusive stanzas—“As many because the days that have been | of SODOM”—the poem wrestles this from inside of, combating fireplace with fireplace in an alchemical symbolic labour that transmutes the dross of corrupt and clichéd idiom right into a dynamic logopoeia that proves actual Hill’s power declare: “genuinely tricky artwork is actually democratic.” Such is the unusual, ambivalently antagonistic place of poetry within the current international and therefore the distance of our actual connection to it: “Whatever unusual dating we now have with the poem, it isn't one in every of entertainment. it truly is extra like being brushed previous, or apart, via an alien being” (Hill). Befriending this estrangement, embracing it as a extra amicable brushing-up-against, Hassan’s Annotations supply a radical and sufferer explication of Speech! Speech! that either clarifies and deepens the poem’s problems, illuminating its polyphonic language and careening discursive move. The author’s approach is straight away commentarial, descriptive, and narratorial, staying faithfully with the poem and following its advanced verbal and logical turns. The ebook generously offers, instead of direct interpretative incursion, a tougher and effective rfile of “the real nature / of this fulfillment” (stanza 92), a capacious, open realizing of the textual content that would end up priceless to its current and destiny readers. punctumbooks.com
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Extra resources for Annotations to Geoffrey Hill's 'Speech! Speech!'
Stanza 83. 118 ‘The Art of Poetry LXXX’, 284-285. 29 GEOFFREY HILL’S SPEECH! SPEECH! In memorializing history, Hill must be careful (especially as he has “nothing about which he can decently complain”) 119 lest panegyric spill over into faux-autobiography; he must ensure that he bears witness to his own experience. The act of looking into the dead, as he notes in stanza 113, is both “destructive” and “vital”; destructive in that the act of ‘autopsy’ – seeing for oneself, eye-witnessing – requires the dissection of the dead, but “vital” in that it brings the dead to life, pulls them “back into being” by the authentic act of bearing witness.
Speech! As at a party or after a performance: the call (in this case ironic, yet mingled with respect) by those present (the PEOPLE) to the poet to respond, to ‘say a few words’. From this simple image the complex themes of the poem arise: the problem of what to say, and how to say it (what Eliot in ‘East Coker’ calls “the intolerable wrestle / With words and meanings”); the poet siting himself (at times citing himself) in relation to his society, his tradition, his audience; and, finally, the intractable mystery of the logos itself.
SPEECH! exclusionist and alienating. Like Pound, Hill makes “the same appeal to the culture of the past as infinitely better than the present”; he demonstrates “the same wide range of learning displayed for a few like-minded readers”; and he exhibits “the same contempt for accessibility”. 96 According to Smith, the root of this inaccessibility is the lack of the confessional: Both Pound and Hill show what happens when poetry loses touch with the need to speak to the individual. A poem that addresses a person, rather than a culture, a class or other abstraction, can never be fascist, as the poems of Eliot and Yeats, despite their authors’ reactionary tendencies, almost always show.