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Speaking to YouContemporary Poetry and Public Address$
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Natalie Pollard

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199657001

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199657001.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 12 April 2021

Civil Invitations: Common Readers

Civil Invitations: Common Readers

(p.197) 10 Civil Invitations: Common Readers
Speaking to You

Geoffrey Hill

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on Hill's rude addresses, often levelled towards editors and critics (Croker, MacSikker, O’Shem). Such address has been read as unidirectional redress; personal railing that rejects responses from the yous it upbraids. The chapter explores the different communities of address negotiated by Hill's A Treatise of Civil Power, and considers the figure of the literary ‘rebel’, as he moves in crowds and readerships, addressing commemorated figures and the intelligentsia. Critical of Eliot's ‘common reader’, Hill insists that address is not comfortably middle-brow activity, pressing upon you common ‘difficulty’. Poetry wields ‘pain’ and ‘stark indignation’ as weapons against the secure and elite. The poet's, and the common man's, speech comes from that rich, shared history employed by the Modernists; from artworks, events, and memorials, and from the patterns of working-class speech/life. But are Hill's addresses successfully self-upbraiding in donning the public voice that accosts itself in doing verbal battle with others?

Keywords:   working class, everyday, pain, critics, editors, Geoffrey Hill, poetry, rude, address

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