Saturday, January 11, 2014

Murphy's Hill = integrity

Well, at last Kenneth Haynes has been mentioned with some admiration for having tackled the task of getting Hill's twenty-one volumes together for us, the consuming readers. Hayden Murphy's review of Broken Hierarchies in today's Scotland Herald reveals a bit about the company he keeps with Dominicans and Jesuits. That must be good training for writing a fair-handed and subtle review.

Since the reviewer has been reading Hill's poetry since the 1960s, it can be assumed that he has had time enough to digest the material, though for him like the rest of us, coming to an assured space of complete comprehension of the Daybooks is not something humanly possible after only one reading. And thinking about the limits of our meager human intelligence—compared to the omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, and immutability found among the theologian's list of God's traits—reminds me of Saul Bellow's description of  how happy God would be to sit down incognito and relax at a café in France. This anthropomorphism has often entertained me: with such a list to cope with, why wouldn't God be tired and want a coffee or a drink? With further joy, I rather imagine God's lingering in the café—ordering a second drink—while reading the Daybooks. I bet She would understand everything on a first reading!

I shall look forward to reading a bit more of Mr. Murphy.

Hayden Murphy, "Geoffrey Hill: Broken Hierarchies - Poems 1952-2012 (OUP)," Scotland Herald (January 11, 2014).