'Grinding the Textures of Harmony': Heroic Difficulty in Geoffrey Hill's Clavics'

Hawlin, Stefan (2014) 'Grinding the Textures of Harmony': Heroic Difficulty in Geoffrey Hill's Clavics'. English: Journal of the English Association, 63 (243). pp. 313-329. ISSN 1756-1124

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1093/english/efu017

Abstract

Real appreciation of Geoffrey Hill’s The Daybooks has been slow. In relation to Clavics (2011), the fourth ‘Daybook’, the issue of his ‘difficulty’ has again come to the fore in responses. Actually, so-called difficulty may have less to do with stylistic features or allusion than with questions concerning Hill’s arguments and his Christian humanism. This essay sets up a Gradum ad Parnassum of ‘difficulty’, moving from a relatively easy poem to one at the highest level of challenge. It looks at this collection’s engagement with seventeenth-century music and religious faith. This is focused on Hill’s view of the royal composer William Lawes (1602–1645), who he sees as a heroic figure struggling to fulfil the true mission of the artist amid the ill-temper and chaos of his times: the ‘world in its rot’. The conclusion here is that Clavics is not some ne plus ultra of difficulty, but a boldly original lyric sequence, interrogating the true role of the artist, and other figures, in relation to the discords of national history.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Submission date: 2-Jan-2013;Acceptance date: 24-Apr-2013
Uncontrolled Keywords: Hill, Geoffrey; Clavics
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Divisions: School of Humanities > English Language and Literature > English Literature
Depositing User: Stefan Hawlin
Date Deposited: 30 May 2018 14:06
Last Modified: 30 May 2018 14:06
URI: http://bear.buckingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/254

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