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Saturday, 18 June 2016

Saturday Rave: Mercian Hymns by Geoffrey Hill

Where is the past?

Under our feet. 

Humanity is perennially caught in the sediment of time, and the past is there to be dug up, or burrowed down to, if not comprehended.

Geoffrey Hill is a distinguished academic known as one of the finest poets writing in English. Here's a bit of his Mercian* Hymns.


I was invested in mother-earth, the crypt of roots and endings. Child's-play, I abode there, bided my time: where the mole

shouldered the clogged wheel, his gold solidus, where dry-dust badgers thronged the Roman flues, the long-unlooked-for mansions of our tribe.


So much for the elves' wergild, the true governance of England, the gaunt warrior-gospel armoured in engraved stone. I wormed my way heavenward for ages amid barbaric ivy, scrollwork of fern.

Exile or pilgrim set me once more upon that ground: my rich and desolate childhood. Dreamy, smug-faced, sick on outings - I who was taken to be a king of some kind, a prodigy, a maimed one.


Word To Use Today: crypt. This word comes from the Greek kruptos, which means hidden.

*Mercia was one of the ancient Saxon kingdoms of England between about 600 and 900 AD.

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