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por Geoffrey Hill
Excruciatingly comic, Speech! Speech! is also that rarest of things: a tour de force that is tragic. As imperious as the King, forever issuing commands, and as perilously ingenious in rejoinder as the Fool, the voices of Geoffrey Hill vie to outjest each other -- outrage each other -- yet also to soothe implacable injuries. Whose injuries, exactly? To some degree (third degree), the poet's own -- but not his alone, yours too, gentle reader. In its ferocity and love, in its glimpses of timeless beauty, even in the praises it bestows (upon the savage farce of Daumier, or the dear measure of Hoist, or the clear-eyed endurance of Balzac), it is a supreme "how to" book. How to be (or at least how to begin the process of being) honest. In speech, for a start. With a poem for each of the 120 days of Sodom, it may go too far -- but then, as T.S. Eliot said, it is only by going too far that you find out how far you can go. This is History (and yet how different from Robert Lowell's unrolling}} and theseare Dream Songs (and as nightmarishly just as John Berryman's visions). Not self-expression, but self-explosion. A challenge to ali concerned.
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