Cover image for Canaan
Hill, Geoffrey.
Personal Author:
First Mariner Books edition.
Publication Information:
Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 1998.

Physical Description:
xii, 76 pages ; 21 cm
General Note:
"A Mariner book."
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PR6015.I4735 C3 1996 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Here is public poetry of uncommon moral urgency: it bears witness to the sufferings of the innocent at the hands of history and to the martyrdom of those who have dared look history in the eye. "Rich, quarrelsome...handsome and brutish...Hill's poetry is the major achievement of late-twentieth-century verse," says The New Criterion. "Canaan is one of the few serious books we will have to mark the millennium."

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 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

The poet of this apocalyptic sixth collection looks down over the moral fate of England, inextricable from its own history and that of Europe, as Moses looked down from Pisgah. More savage in his indictments than Eliot in Four Quartets, Hill here seeks the nation's soul, repeatedly referred to as lost within a biblical "Dark-land," finds it and condemns it as beyond redemption: "Whereto England rous'd,/ ignorant, her inane/ Midas-like hunger: smoke/ engrossed, cloud clumbered,// a spectral people/ raking among the ash." That a late-20th-century poet would even attempt judgments on this order is rare enough, but that one could make the writing and reading of such poems seem not only relevant but essential to the good life, is a testament to Hill's extraordinary powers. Hill, who has been living and teaching in Boston since 1988, published a third of these 39 poems in 1994's New & Collected Poems but has here compiled a volume of dazzling coherence and cumulative effect. Be forewarned, though: those without a superlative command of the Bible, a knowledge of arcane figures in British and European history and some German and Latin should be prepared to read this collection in the reference room of a well-stocked library: "Time passes, strengthening and fading. Europa/ hetaera displays her parts, her triumph/ to tax even Dürer's resplendent economy/ in rictus and graven sorrow." While addressed to a country whose history is quite different from our own, these poems, difficult as they are, speak to the collective spirit of a "star-gazing planet out of which/ lamentation is spun." (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved