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Best Famous Geoffrey Hill Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Geoffrey Hill poems. This is a select list of the best famous Geoffrey Hill poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Geoffrey Hill poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of Geoffrey Hill poems.

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by Barry Tebb |


 Sitting in outpatients

With my own minor ills

Dawn’s depression lifts

To the lilt of amitryptilene,

A double dose for a day’s journey

To a distant ward.

The word was out that Simmons

Had died eighteen months after

An aneurism at sixty seven.

The meeting he proposed in his second letter

Could never happen: a few days later

A Christmas card in Gaelic - Nollaig Shona -

Then silence, an unbearable chasm

Of wondering if I’d inadvertently offended.

A year later a second card explained the silence:

I joined the queue of mourners:

It was August when I saw the Guardian obituary

Behind glass in the Poetry Library.

How astonishing the colour photo,

The mane of white hair,

The proud mien, the wry smile,

Perfect for a bust by Epstein

Or Gaudier Brjeska a century earlier.

I stood by the shelves

Leafing through your books

With their worn covers,

Remarking the paucity

Of recent borrowings

And the ommisions

From the anthologies.

“I’m a bit out of fashion

But still bringing out books

Armitage didn’t put me in at all

The egregarious Silkin

Tried to get off with my wife -

May he rest in peace.

I can’t remember what angered me

About Geoffrey Hill, quite funny

In a nervous, melancholic way,

A mask you wouldn’t get behind.

Harrison and I were close for years

But it sort of faded when he wrote

He wanted to hear no more

Of my personal life.

I went to his reading in Galway

Where he walked in his cosy regalia

Crossed the length of the bar

To embrace me, manic about the necessity

Of doing big shows in the Balkans.

I taught him all he knows, says aging poet!

And he’s forgotten the best bits,

He knows my work, how quickly

vanity will undo a man.

Tom Blackburn was Gregory Fellow

In my day, a bit mad

But a good and kind poet.”

I read your last book

The Company of Children,

You sent me to review -

Your best by so far

It seemed an angel

Had stolen your pen -

The solitary aging singer

Whispering his last song.

by Barry Tebb |


 Arriving for a reading an hour too early:

Ruefully, the general manager stopped putting out the chairs.

“You don’t get any help these days. I have

To sort out everything from furniture to faxes.

Why not wander round the park? There are ducks

And benches where you can sit and watch.”

I realized it was going to be a hungry evening

With not even a packet of crisps in sight.

I parked my friend on a bench and wandered

Down Highgate Hill, realising where I was

From the Waterlow Unit and the Whittington’s A&E.

Some say they know their way by the pubs

But I find psychiatric units more useful.

At a reading like this you never know just who

Might have a do and need some Haldol fast.

(Especially if the poet hovering round sanity’s border

Should chance upon the critic who thinks his Word

Is law and order - the first’s a devotee of a Krishna cult

For rich retirees; the second wrote a good book once

On early Hughes, but goes off if you don’t share his

‘Thought through views’).

In the event the only happening was a turbanned Sikh

Having a go at an Arts Council guru leaning in a stick.

I remembered Martin Bell’s story of how Scannell the boxer

Broke - was it Redgrove’s brolly? - over his head and had

To hide in the Gents till time was called.

James Simmons boasted of how the pint he threw

At Anthony Thwaite hit Geoffrey Hill instead.

O, for the company of the missing and the dead

Martin Bell, Wendy Oliver, Iris and Ted.

by Barry Tebb |


 It was like chucking-out time

In a rough Victorian pub

Cherubic Dylan was first to go

Lachrymose but with a show

Of strength, yelling "Buggerall,

Buggerall, this is my boat-house

In Laugherne, these are my books,

My prizes, I ride every wave-crest,

My loves are legion. What’s this

You’re saying about fashion?

Others follow where I lead,

Schoolchildren copy my verse,

No anthology omits me

Put me down! Put me down!

George Barker was too far gone

To take them on

And moaned about a list

In a crystal cave of making beneath

The basement of the Regent Street


Edith Sitwell was rigid in a carved

High-backed chair, regally aloof,

Her ringed fingers gripping the arms,

Her eyes flashing diamonds of contempt.

"A la lampe! A la lampe!"

A serious fight broke out in the saloon bar

When they tried to turf Redgrove out:

His image of the poet as violent man

Broke loose and in his turtle-necked

Seaman’s jersey he shouted,

"Man the barricades!"

A tirade of nature-paths and voters

For a poetry of love mixed it with

The chuckers-out; Kennedy, Morley

And Hulse suffered a sharp repulse.

Heath-Stubbs was making death stabs

With his blindman’s stick at the ankles

Of detractors from his position under

The high table of chivalry, intoning

A prayer to raise the spirit

Of Sidney Keyes.

Geoffrey Hill had Merlin and Arthur

Beside him and was whirling an axe

To great effect, headless New Gen poets

Running amok.

Andrew Crozier was leading a counter-attack

With Caddy and Hinton neck and neck

And Silkin was quietly garrotting

While he kept on smiling.

Price Turner was so happy at the slaughter

He hanged himself in a corner

And Hughes brought the Great White Boar

To wallow in all the gore

While I rode centaur

Charles Tomlinson had sent for.

by Geoffrey Hill |

Mercian Hymns I

 King of the perennial holly-groves, the riven sandstone: overlord of the
M5: architect of the historic rampart and ditch, the citadel at
Tamworth, the summer hermitage in Holy Cross: guardian of the Welsh
Bridge and the Iron Bridge: contractor to the desirable new estates:
saltmaster: money-changer: commissioner for oaths: martyrologist: the
friend of Charlemagne.

'I liked that,' said Offa, 'sing it again.'

by Geoffrey Hill |

In Memory of Jane Fraser

 When snow like sheep lay in the fold
And wind went begging at each door,
And the far hills were blue with cold,
And a cloud shroud lay on the moor,

She kept the siege. And every day
We watched her brooding over death
Like a strong bird above its prey.
The room filled with the kettle's breath.

Damp curtains glued against the pane
Sealed time away. Her body froze
As if to freeze us all, and chain
Creation to a stunned repose.

She died before the world could stir.
In March the ice unloosed the brook
And water ruffled the sun's hair.
Dead cones upon the alder shook.

by Geoffrey Hill |

Requiem for the Plantagenet Kings

 For whom the possessed sea littered, on both shores,
Ruinous arms; being fired, and for good,
To sound the constitution of just wards,
Men, in their eloquent fashion, understood.

Relieved of soul, the dropping-back of dust,
Their usage, pride, admitted within doors;
At home, under caved chantries, set in trust,
With well-dressed alabaster and proved spurs
They lie; they lie; secure in the decay
Of blood, blood-marks, crowns hacked and coveted,
Before the scouring fires of trial-day
Alight on men; before sleeked groin, gored head,
Budge through the clay and gravel, and the sea
Across daubed rock evacuates its dead.

by Geoffrey Hill |

September Song

 born 19.6.32 - deported 24.9.42

Undesirable you may have been, untouchable
you were not. Not forgotten
or passed over at the proper time.

As estimated, you died. Things marched,
sufficient, to that end.
Just so much Zyklon and leather, patented
terror, so many routine cries.

(I have made
an elegy for myself it
is true)

September fattens on vines. Roses
flake from the wall. The smoke
of harmless fires drifts to my eyes.

This is plenty. This is more than enough.

by Geoffrey Hill |

Mercian Hymns XVII

 He drove at evening through the hushed Vosges. The car radio,
glimmering, received broken utterance from the horizon of storms...

'God's honours - our bikes touched: he skidded and came off.' 'Liar.' A
timid father's protective bellow. Disfigurement of a village king. 'Just
look at the bugger...'

His maroon GT chanted then overtook. He lavished on the high valleys its

by Geoffrey Hill |

Mercian Hymns XXV

 Brooding on the eightieth letter of Fors Clavigera, I speak this in
memory of my grandmother, whose childhood and prime womanhood were spent
in the nailer's darg.

The nailshop stood back of the cottage, by the fold. It reeked stale
mineral sweat. Sparks had furred its low roof. In dawn-light the
troughed water floated a damson-bloom of dust ---

not to be shaken by posthumous clamour. It is one thing to celebrate the
'quick forge', another to cradle a face hare-lipped by the searing wire.

Brooding on the eightieth letter of Fors Clavigera, I speak this in
memory of my grandmother, whose childhood and prime womanhood were spent
in the nailer's darg.

by Geoffrey Hill |

Mercian Hymns VII

 Gasholders, russet among fields. Milldams, marlpools that lay
unstirring. Eel-swarms. Coagulations of frogs: once, with branches and
half-bricks, he battered a ditchful; then sidled away from the stillness
and silence.

Ceolred was his friend and remained so, even after the day of the lost
fighter: a biplane, already obsolete and irreplaceable, two inches of
heavy snub silver. Ceolred let it spin through a hole in the
classroom-floorboards, softly, into the rat-droppings and coins.

After school he lured Ceolred, who was sniggering with fright, down to
the old quarries, and flayed him. Then, leaving Ceolred, he journeyed
for hours, calm and alone, in his private derelict sandlorry named