At Present

New Critical pedagogy remains irreplaceable in introducing poetry to undergraduates; the label 'New Critical' is — unfortunately — now often pejorative, connoting

'out-of-date', 'narrow' and/or 'right-wing'. The New Critics' own poetry can seem to lack contemporary inheritors — until one remembers Geoffrey Hill, whose metaphysical and historical preoccupations, gnarled density, allusive compression and moral and religious seriousness owe much to Ransom and Tate. Hill's major work has come in sequences, among them the book-length Mercian Hymns (1971) and The Triumph of Love (1998). 'An Apology for the Revival of Christian Architecture in England' (1979) packs together tightly symbolic language with religious properties: the series of poems seems meant to honour some backward-looking but brilliantly productive effort, one either (Hill preserves the ambiguity) triumphantly finished or prematurely abandoned: one of its thirteen sonnets commemorates

High voices in domestic chapels; praise; praise-worthy feuds; new-burgeoned spires that spring crisp-leaved as though from dropping wells. The young ferns root among our vitrified tears.


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