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the Complete Review
the complete review - poetry



Mercian Hymns

by
Geoffrey Hill


general information | review summaries | our review | links | about the author



Title: Mercian Hymns
Author: Geoffrey Hill
Genre: Poetry
Written: 1971
Availability: in: New & Collected Poems, 1952-1992
. in: Collected Poems - UK
. in: New & Collected Poems, 1952-1992 - Canada

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Our Assessment:

B : an interesting and revealing series of poems

See our review for fuller assessment.




Review Summaries
Please refer to reviews for New and Collected Poems.

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The complete review's Review:

       A cycle of thirty poems, all part of one grand one that recounts the story of King Offa -- while also being a revealing autobiographical account. Mercia was an Anglo-Saxon kingdom in central England, most influential under the rule of King Offa (757-796). It is this area that Hill comes from, and so he uses the counterpoint of Offa's rule and modern times to pay homage to the land and to his childhood. More playful than usual ("overlord of the M5" is one of the titles he give Offa), Hill expertly interweaves history and the contemporary world.
       Personal, some of the poem loses itself in its self-referential obscurity. Nevertheless, it is a quite entertaining read (though, as always with Hill: some effort required) and Hill's less strict style here makes it a different experience from most of his other work. It is naturally also of interest for its autobiographical detail. Recommended, as an unusual but worthwhile attempt.

       N O T E : this collection is included in Hill's New and Collected Poems, 1952-1992 and we recommend that you get this more comprehensive collection.

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Links:

Reviews: Mercian Hymns:
  • Includes a 1981 interview with Hill, in which he discusses the Mercian Hymns.
Geoffrey Hill: Other Books by Geoffrey Hill under review: Other books of interest under review:
  • See also the index of Poetry under review

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About the Author:

       English poet Geoffrey Hill was born in 1932. A graduate of Keble College, Oxford, he has taught at the University of Leeds, at Cambridge, and at Boston University.

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