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Silence and Geoffrey Hill’s Poetics of Witness

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AbstractFocusing on Geoffrey Hill’s early poetry concerning atrocity and the Holocaust, this essay argues that Hill presents his poems as shared events between the poles of the impossibility and the actuality of witness, instead of as poetic speech that fully signifies witness. Through close readings of “Funeral Music” and “September Song,” this article shows that Hill’s heavy use of negative rhetorical devices, his famous ambiguities, and his thematic explorations of silence do not debunk the possibility of witness but rather awaken awareness to the complications inherent in any response to atrocity.

Affiliations: 1: Washington UniversitySt. Louis

10.1163/15685292-12341300
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2013-01-01
2016-12-10

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