Sunday, March 30, 2014

with distasteful feast

Science appears to be the most professional and dissecting field that Powys can think of and he hates science whenever it is close-structured and tries to answer questions, so he creates (out of the flesh of his own hatred) a disgusting scientific man who would rather vivisect a dog than rescue his own daughter in Morwyn or the Vengeance of God, hypocritical Mr. ---, a maniac and torture addict whose ghost colludes with the ghost of Torquemada on a flying ship in Hell after a meteorite hits the main trinity of characters and pushes them through the surface of the earth for the sake of a book that the author, in a 1937 letter, called "slightly like Dante, but not really."

Mr. -- and the Inquisitor are both torturing with the same true motivation, states Powys. They might tell the rest of the world that they are saving souls or producing medicinal discoveries but really they both have a slavering craving for screaming and cruelty, and the same goes for the Ku Klux Klan, who dwell in Hell as well, along with European settlers from East Africa, and anyone else he can think of who might make his vivisectors look worse by proximity.

Geoffrey Hill speaks critically when he finds, in Cardinal Newman, a set of words that skip along on their nursery rhyme the way "dwell in Hell as well" just did, and when I think of that, and of Powys' I-won't, I decide to keep my hop-skip because it makes me feel as if I am obscurely ruining Geoffrey Hill. Hill has his own wordplay tactics, sometimes using the Elizabethan method that combines a noun with a surprising adjective, "high-spent poverty with distasteful feast," in The Triumph of Love, and sometimes, as he does a while earlier in the same long poem, repeating a word while he calls your attention to another meaning that the previous iteration of that word might have had, if the poet had put it in a different setting; but he did not. So calling your attention to I did not as well as I did.

Southwell, addressing the cordial
cordially: "it does my heart good."

Hill's art is the art of not letting you take words lightly (which should rightly transmit itself to the poem as a whole, not taking that lightly either), and it is the opposite of "dwell in hell as well," which asks you to enjoy the easy movement across the surfaces of the words, downplaying their histories and their meanings in favour of immediate music. Whereas the drop between "cordial" and "cordially" is a link between meaning and meaning with cordial as trigger and vehicle.

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