By Ann Hassan
Geoffrey Hill’s Speech! Speech! (2000) encapsulates thousand years’ worthy of utterances in a symbolic act of remembrance and expression of depression 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 one hundred twenty densely allusive stanzas—“As many because the days that have been | of SODOM”—the poem wrestles this from inside of, combating hearth with fireplace in an alchemical symbolic labour that transmutes the dross of corrupt and clichéd idiom right into a dynamic logopoeia that proves real Hill’s chronic declare: “genuinely tricky artwork is really democratic.” Such is the unusual, ambivalently adversarial place of poetry within the current global and hence the gap of our genuine connection to it: “Whatever unusual courting we have now with the poem, it's not certainly one of entertainment. it truly is extra like being brushed earlier, or apart, by means of 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 flow. The author’s technique is right away commentarial, descriptive, and narratorial, staying faithfully with the poem and following its complicated verbal and logical turns. The publication generously presents, instead of direct interpretative incursion, a tougher and effective rfile of “the real nature / of this success” (stanza 92), a capacious, open figuring out of the textual content that might end up useful to its current and destiny readers. punctumbooks.com
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Additional resources for Annotations to Geoffrey Hill's 'Speech! Speech!'
96 Laurie Smith, ‘Subduing the Reader’. ‘The Long-Cherished Anger of Geoffrey Hill’. 98 John Drexel, ‘Geoffrey Hill: The Poet in Winter’, review of The Orchards of Syon, Contemporary Poetry Review, 7 Apr. 2003 (accessed 9 Aug. com/geoffrey-hill-the-poet-inwinter/>. 97 24 INTRODUCTION And because I was not quick enough to understand the qualifications that Eliot himself would have entered, I acquired a far too extremist view of what seemed then a total incompatibility of the objective and the subjective, and I would have said the poem is achieved by the fullest possible objectification of individual subjectivity.
Speech! 105 Hill champions the responsible use of language, and attention to semantic, syntactic and lexical detail. He aims to produce a language and a “fine-edged discourse”,106 capable of reproducing the complexity of everyday life in the written word. 107 Language for Hill has always the potential for nuance and fine distinction; it is the sustenance of these qualities that is required of those who use it. 102 Holocaust Poetry, 71. Don’t Ask Me What I Mean, 118. 104 Collected Critical Writings, 174.
The various typographical elements serve different purposes; in stanza 117 Hill offers some insight into the exact nature of these purposes: CAPITALS | STAGE DIRECTIONS AND OTHER FORMS OF SUBPOENA. Italics | words with which Í – sometimes – surprise myself. These lines are plainly disingenuous: offering such an explanation at the poem’s close only adds to the obfuscation; moreover, capitalization (the other-voiced interjections which Hill terms “STAGE DIRECTIONS”) and italicization are by no means the full extent of the oddities.