5 (from Clavics)

         Making of mere brightness the air to tremble         
         So the sun’s aurora in deep winter
                               Spiders’ bramble
                               Blazing white floss
                               Silent stentor!—
                      Viscosity and dross
                               No more amass
                               At the centre
         The whole anatomy of heaven and earth
         Shewn as the alchemists declare it
                               Poised beyond wrath
                               Resurrection
                               Of skin and bone
                               To dispirit…
                      The day cuts a chill swath,
                               Dark hunkers down.
         I think we are past Epiphany now.
         Earth billows on, its everlasting
                               Shadow in tow
         And we with it, fake shadows onward casting.

                                              *

             Trust you to be a comic poet manqué
                    Evidence too sweet to dismiss
                      See above. Well, thank you!
                                (Taking the piss,
                                      Donkey?)
                                       Confess
                                  Melancholy
                      A touch too much my thing.
                       Erasmus, In Praise of Folly:
           Grand antidote no substitute for bling
by Geoffrey Hill

We’re delighted that celebrated poet and teacher Tamar Yoseloff will be returning to Brookes to lead a workshop entitled ‘Poetry and Identity: Creating Character’. The workshop will take place on Saturday 11 February from 10.30-4.30pm and is designed to coincide with an exhibition by acclaimed French photographer Claude Cahun running in Brookes’s Glass Tank Gallery. The cost is £45 (£40 for Brookes staff and students), and spaces are limited! Please visit our website for more details and to book a place.

We are also excited to invite you to join us at one of the stops on a UK tour by Pia Tafdrup, one of Scandinavia’s leading writers. In a series of events from 15-17 February organized by the Poetry Centre and supported by the Danish Arts Foundation, Pia will read at the University of Reading with Peter Robinson, at Ledbury, where she will be in conversation with Fiona Sampson, and in Oxford, where she will read at Oriel College alongside T.S. Eliot Prize-winning poet Philip Gross. You can find out more and book tickets via the Centre’s website.

Section 5 of Clavics is copyright © Geoffrey Hill, 2011. It is reprinted from Clavics (Enitharmon Press, 2011) by permission of Enitharmon Press

Notes from Enitharmon Press:

An elegiac sequence, mourning for the musician William Lawes who was killed at the Battle of Chester in 1645, Clavics is delicately constructed, each page comprised of a section made up of two stanzas, together forming the shape of a key. Before long, however, the tone makes it clear that nothing is to be taken at face value; amongst the lines are provocations and incongruities, playful references and about-turns. Clavics is a celebration of seventeenth-century music and poetry, yet is confrontational and sometimes shockingly modern. From one line to the next you may be pulled out of a potently evoked moment of history, thrust up against the wall of sexual politics and strained meaning in contemporary language, and then dropped back onto a battlefield. Read more about the book on the Enitharmon website.

From working-class Worcestershire roots, Sir Geoffrey Hill (1932-2016) became one of Britain’s most celebrated poets. In his distinguished literary career Hill published 19 books of poetry and also several books of criticism, collated in his award-winning Collected Critical Writings (OUP, 2008). In 2010 he was elected Oxford Professor of Poetry and in 2012 he was knighted for his services to literature. He previously taught at Leeds, Cambridge and Boston University, Massachusetts. His twelfth collection of poems, A Treatise of Civil Power, appeared in 2007, following on Scenes from Comus (2005) and Without Title (2006). Oxford University Press published his Broken Hierarchies: Poems 1952-2012 in 2013.

‘William Blake dreamed up the original Enitharmon as one of his inspiriting, good, female daemons, and his own spirit as a poet-artist, printer-publisher still lives in the press which bears the name of his creation. Enitharmon is a rare and wonderful phenomenon, a press where books are shaped into artefacts of lovely handiwork as well as communicators of words and worlds. The writers and the artists published here over the last forty-five years represent a truly historic gathering of individuals with an original vision and an original voice, but the energy is not retrospective: it is growing and new ideas enrich the list year by year. Like an ecologist who manages to restock the meadows with a nearly vanished species of wild flower or brings a rare pair of birds back to found a colony, this publisher has dedicatedly and brilliantly made a success of that sharply endangered species, the independent press.’ (Marina Warner.)  

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