Geoffrey Hill's 'Funeral Music'

Sir Geoffrey Hill (!932-2016)

A sequence of eight sonnets, though the form is handled so skillfully you might miss the fact. Hill claimed he was attempting a ‘florid grim music broken by grunts and shrieks’. The ‘Subject matter’ or the background, is the Wars of the Roses linked by the executions of the three men named at the beginning.

Hill was the only poet whose books I bought immediately they were published. I’ve never understood my fascination with his work, but it began when I read (silently) the last sonnet in Funeral Music and realised I was holding my breath.

Reading favourite poems aloud is an educational experience. Sometimes, after several attempts, the result is so far from what I thought it should be that it seems worth preserving no matter how wrong it feels..

A longer attempt to explain the fascination is here:

Edna St. VIncent Millay's 'Bluebeard'.

Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892–1950).

This sonnet first appeared in ‘Renascence and Other Poems’. (1917). It’s a version of the Bluebeard story., perhaps best known in Perrault's tale from the 17th century.

By the twenty-first century the rewritten fairy tale has become a genre of its own. Angela Carter aside, few attempts are as interesting as Millay's original use of this story.