Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Funeral Music I, by Geoffrey Hill

Funeral Music

William de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk: beheaded 1450
John Tiptoft, Earl of Worcester: beheaded 1470
Anthony Woodville, Earl Rivers: beheaded 1483


Processionals in the exemplary cave,   
Benediction of shadows. Pomfret. London.   
The voice fragrant with mannered humility,   
With an equable contempt for this world,   
‘In honorem Trinitatis’. Crash. The head   
Struck down into a meaty conduit of blood.   
So these dispose themselves to receive each   
Pentecostal blow from axe or seraph,   
Spattering block-straw with mortal residue.   
Psalteries whine through the empyrean. Fire   
Flares in the pit, ghosting upon stone   
Creatures of such rampant state, vacuous   
Ceremony of possession, restless
Habitation, no man’s dwelling-place.

Source of the text – Geoffrey Hill, Broken Hierarchies: Poems 1952-2012. Oxford University Press, 2013.

TJB: Contempt-fragments. The world is not enough for these guys yet this essay-sonnet expresses no opinion about what’s beyond the platonic cave.

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