Cover image for The triumph of love
The triumph of love
Hill, Geoffrey.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 1998.
Physical Description:
82 pages ; 22 cm
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PR6015.I4735 T7 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Geoffrey Hill is a moralist, and his subject is pain - the pain inflicted by man upon man. Alone among contemporary poets, he dares to judge our record of violence against ourselves. And if he judges us all for our failings - for both our enormities and our cowardly responses to them - he judges himself just as fiercely. He prays for divine forgiveness, and for the grace that we need to begin to forgive ourselves. John Hollander has called Geoffrey Hill "powerful, original, and profound -- the finest British poet of our time." The justice of this estimation is apparent in every page of The Triumph of Love, a masterpiece in the forgotten mode of laus et vituperatio, a protest against evil and a tribute to those who have the courage to resist it.

Author Notes

Geoffrey Hill was born in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, England on June 18 1932. He received a first in English literature at Oxford University. He wrote numerous collections of poetry including Genesis, King Log, The Triumph of Love, Mercian Hymns, A Treatise of Civil Power, Odi Barbare, and Broken Hierarchies. He received several awards including the Faber Memorial prize and the Whitbread for his poetry. He was knighted for his services to literature in 2012.

He was also an essayist. His collections of essays included The Lords of Limit, The Enemy's Country, Style and Faith, and Collected Critical Writings, which won the Truman Capote award for literary criticism in 2008. He died suddenly on June 30, 2016 at the age of 84.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Unexpectedly soon after last year's searing Canaan comes Hill's latest indictment of Western Culture, once again obsessively examining the pockmarked, exhausted corpse of "Europa." A single poem of 150 stanzas, The Triumph of Love uncharacteristically reads as if it had been written in non-stop, Kerouac-style sessions, though Hill's signature densely wrought, freighted lines remain. Here, Hill's preoccupations are Chamberlain's appeasement of Hitler, the apocalyptic fire-bombings of cities in Britain and Germany and the shoah, invoked by reference to The Book of Daniel, the work of Callot and intimations of its horrors that seemingly came to the poet in boyhood. In grappling with the question of redemption for the murdered, Hill finds himself questioning‘in "livid" self-examinations addressing a career's worth of criticism‘the didactic mode he has previously used to such great effect. With the same granite-cut allusions and morally outraged rants that have incurred charges of turgid iconoclasm, Hill defiantly clings to his chosen mode ("I offer to the presiding judge of our art, self-pleasured Ironia"), even as he sputters in not-quite-mock self-justification. Summoning poetic heroes from Milton to Eugenio Montale, Hill finally tries out the possibilities of praise ("Lauda? Lauda? Lauda Sion? LAUDA!") only to turn and undercut them: "Incantation of incontinence‘the lyric cry?/ Believe me, he's not/ told you the half of it. (All who are able may stand.)" Despite the tongue-in-cheek invitation, the reader who has followed Hill's heroic efforts to answer to history may be tempted to stand in admiration anyway. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Hill has long enjoyed a quiet reputation as one of the most brilliant living poets in English, and certain poems from earlier collections looked like the signposts of a great career. But since the 1970s Hill's poetry has carried the increasingly rebarbative tone of The Mystery of the Charity of Charles Peguy (1985. o.p.) and Canaan (Houghton, 1997), retreating into an ardent Anglicanism that almost entirely renounces salvation. The stance he adopts here is that of an angry prophet, hectoring and humorless. Contemplating his life and the century's from the point where the "terrible Angel of Procreation" begins to give place to "the Angel-in-hiding of Senility," Hill rages at our failure in "the whole-keeping of Augustine's City of God"; his only solace is a faith defined as "inescapable endurance." Despite Hill's erudition, not many readers will respond to this switchbacking journey through hundreds of learned allusions. For larger collections.‘Graham Christian, Andover-Harvard Theological Lib., Cambridge, MA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.