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Acceptable WordsEssays on the Poetry of Geoffrey Hill$
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Jeffrey Wainwright

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780719067549

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: July 2012

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719067549.001.0001

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‘Our love is what we love to have’: Tenebrae (1978)

‘Our love is what we love to have’: Tenebrae (1978)

(p.35) 4 ‘Our love is what we love to have’: Tenebrae (1978)
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Jeffrey Wainwright

Manchester University Press

Geoffrey Hill's poems have often presented a series of scenes, livid tableaux, ‘spectacles’: the Jews in Europe, the Battle of Towton, the endurances of some poets, Boethius in his cell, the nailer's darg, real and fancied martyrdoms like those of his Sebastians. Hill feels that we are bound by that perpetual paradox of love renewing ‘the battle it was born to lose’. But it is a battle that must be waged for the alternative is death. This is what Harold Bloom calls Hill's ‘desperate humanism’. In Tenebrae, it appears with least equivocation in the poem ‘Christmas Trees’ in praise of the German pastor and opponent of Hitler, Dietrich Bonhoeff.

Keywords:   Geoffrey Hill, love, Dietrich Bonhoeff, Christmas Trees, desperate humanism

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