Fiction clavics geoffrey hill

Published on April 2nd, 2011


Clavics by Geoffrey Hill

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Blurb: It is not immediately obvious what Clavics is about. What is apparent that it is an elegiac sequence, mourning for the musician William Lawes who was killed at the Battle of Chester in 1645; delicately constructed, each page is comprised of a section made up of two stanzas, together forming the shape of a key. Before long, however, the tone makes it clear that nothing is to be taken at face value; amongst the lines are provocations and incongruities, playful references and about-turns. (Enitharmon Press, 2011)

The Economist

A collection that delights in eccentric incongruities. Ben Jonson will appear a line after a popular instant coffee blend has been mentioned, Dante will be found next to a mime artist, Marcel Marceau, and Lawes himself figures auditioning for Ronnie Scott … This discordance is part of his wider belief in the public nature of poetry. Refusing to be a “light entertainer” like the hypocrites in Dante’s inferno, Mr Hill presents a difficult world as he sees it. His gift lies in making such difficulty momentarily understood.

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Lachlan Mackinnon, The Independent

The blurb tells us that the court musician William Lawes, killed at Chester in 1645, is the poem’s true subject. Lawes does appear occasionally, but is important more as a model. Lawes’s music is often startlingly dissonant and can swerve suddenly in direction; just so Hill. This book, all as easy on ear and mind as its opening, is really the sheerest twaddle.

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