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History, Identity, and the Search for Roots 

in the Poetry of Geoffrey Hill

This thesis was submitted in 1997 and therefore does not address Hill's more recent work. However, I thought it might be of interest to some people and therefore I am planning to make it available online.

Perhaps more people will become interested in Hill's work as a result of Seamus Heaney's comment in an interview with the Telegraph (9/4/09):

In 1977, Heaney gave a lecture which spoke appreciatively of three English poets: Hughes, Philip Larkin and Geoffrey Hill. Might Hill (the only one still alive) make an interesting choice? “He would make a magnificent poet laureate,” says Heaney. “He has a strong sense of the importance of the maintenance of speech… a deep scholarly sense of the religious and political underpinning of everything in Britain.” However, he continues, his poems show an acute distress at the falling away of standards – cultural and political. “I think because of that he wouldn’t want the job.” 

Contents page and abstract


1: Hunter of Forms: Hill and Language

2: Englishness and Nostalgia

3 Poetry and Witness

4: Martyrdom and the Poet's Sacrifice

5: Poetry and History

6: Imitation, Poetic Vocation and Spiritual Integrity