In the footnote to Brian Phillips's intelligent review of Geoffrey Hill's most recent books [ "A Colder Spell to Come," May 2006 ], Phillips deplores the current state of the culture of American poetry, in which a poet of Hill's stature can lose his publisher for lack of sales. If anything, Phillips's conclusions are understated. The number of readers who are devoted to work, like Hill's, that summons the great literary ghosts haunting the substance of our language will always be small. The difference is that a certain segment, perhaps the majority, of the poetic audience now greets the very notion of a poem based on a Miltonic masque (Scenes from Comus) with unembarrassed indifference or hostility, and those poets, critics, and editors who might be able to direct a reader to Hill have succumbed, largely, to extra-literary considerations when choosing whom to endorse—like the personal connections, attractive backstory, etc. Despite Phillips's efforts to portray the moments of beautiful "simplicity" in Hill's newest books, Hill is not plain enough, not demotic enough, not autobiographical enough, not, God forbid, sympathique enough, to satisfy those readers who prefer their artistic intentions unambiguous, their poems diaristic or journalistic, their poets glib and charming at the podium, their prize winners derivative of the vox populi, and their intellectual lives devoid of pesky literary allusions. "Elitism" is the bugbear used to scare us from the hard task of literary reading and writing, the kind of complex and accretive and galvanic life's work that is an ideal not exclusive to someone of Hill's ancestral, cultural, or religious background. It should go without saying that anyone, even a non-theistic, Cantonese peasant reared in provincial Arizona, can share and mourn the same ideal. If poetry, as Sidney believed, "doth draw the mind more effectually than any other art doth," the neglect of Geoffrey Hill is more than an embarrassment for poetry in America; it is a diminution of the consciousness that our poetry both reflects and augments.