England's most fearsome living poet, Hill (Canaan, etc.), who has been working out of Boston University of late, has long been admired for his moral and philosophical seriousness and for his densely worked, hyperallusive language. Laid out in 120 12-line sections, Hill's new book-length poem follows naturally from, and often resembles, his 1998 The Triumph of Love, which arranged European history, political theory, autobiography and glittering, fragmentary description into one powerful, challenging, mosaiclike book. This work, like that one, invokes literary masters and historical martyrs and denounces England's, Europe's, and America's tawdry, media-driven present, where ""Cameo actors can make killings/ their legacies."" Boasting a brassier, denser metric than Hill's previous work has used, Hill's terse declarations and haughty thrusts give many passages their strength; they can render other bits monotonous or too private to decode. Individual sections (especially toward the middle of the work) function as self-contained arguments and laments--these are among the best parts: one remembers the World War I poet Isaac Rosenberg, while another considers the ""caught-short trot-pace of early film."" Though less compellingly narrative than Triumph, this is Hill's most personal book yet. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/30/2000 Release date: 11/01/2000 Genre: Fiction
During the Covid-19 crisis, Publishers Weekly is providing free digital access to our magazine, archive, and website. To receive the access to the latest issue delivered to your inbox free each week, enter your email below.