The Peacock at Alderton

By Geoffrey Hill b. 1932 Geoffrey Hill
Nothing to tell why I cannot write
in re Nobody; nobody to narrate this
latter acknowledgement: the self that counts
words to a line, accountable survivor
pain-wedged, pinioned in the cleft trunk,
less petty than a sprite, poisonous as Ariel
to Prospero's own knowledge. In my room
a vase of peacock feathers. I will attempt
to describe them, as if for evidence
on which a life depends. Except for the eyes
they are threadbare, the threads hanging
as from a luminate tough weed in February.
But those eyes—like a Greek letter,
omega, fossiled in an Indian shawl;
like a shaved cross section of living tissue,
the edge metallic blue, the core of jet,
the white of the eye in fact closer to beige,
the whole encircled with a black-fringed green.
The peacock roosts alone on a Scots pine
at the garden end, in blustery twilight
his lambent cloak stark as a warlock's cape,
the maharajah-bird that scavenges
close by the stone-troughed, stone-terraced, stone-ensurfed
Suffolk shoreline; at times displays his scream.

Source: Poetry (March 2007).

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This poem originally appeared in the March 2007 issue of Poetry magazine

March 2007
 Geoffrey  Hill

Biography

Geoffrey Hill was born in Worcestershire, England in 1932. From a working-class family, Hill attended Oxford where his work was first published by the poet Donald Hall. These poems later collected in For the Unfallen: Poems 1952-1958 (1959), marked an astonishing debut. In dense poems of gnarled syntax and astonishing rhetorical power, Hill planted the seeds of style and concern that he has continued to cultivate over his long . . .

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POET’S REGION England

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