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The Mystery of the Charity of Geoffrey Hill

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Abstract This essay is essentially an analysis of Geoffrey Hill’s long and difficult poem of 1983, “The Mystery of the Charity of Charles Péguy,” a poem that confronts the advent of modernity and the ambiguities of history by focusing on the dilemmas that the French poet and journalist named in its title faced on the eve of World War 1. Hill sees Péguy as embracing a version of Christian fatalism, and so too his own attitude toward history is deeply fatalistic in the poem. If there is a saving grace for Hill, it is not in history, which remains forever unresolved, but in poetry.

Affiliations: 1: University of Notre Dame


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1. Eliot T. S. The Collected Poems and Plays: 1909–1950 1971 New York Harcourt, Brace and World
2. Hill Geoffrey"“The Mystery of the Charity of Charles Péguy.”" New and Collected Poems: 1952–1992 1994 Boston and New York Mariner Books
3. Marx Karl Tucker Robert C."“The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte.”" The Marx-Engels Reader 1978 New York and London W. W. Norton
4. Nietzsche Friedrich Kaufmann Walter The Gay Science 1974 New York Vintage Books
5. Péguy Charles"“Supplementary Texts from ‘Notre jeunnesse.’ ”" Jews and Christians on Time and Eternity: Charles Péguy’s Portrait of Bernard-Lazard 1998 Stanford CA Stanford University Press
6. Ricks Christopher True Friendship: Geoffrey Hill, Anthony Hecht, and Robert Lowell under the Sign of Eliot and Pound 2010 New Haven and London Yale University Press
7. Wainwright Jeffery Robinson Peter"“The Mystery of the Charity of Charles Péguy”" Geoffrey Hill: Essays on His Work 1985 Milton Keynes, England and Philadelphia Open University Press

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