Have been reading Lords of Limit, G. Hill book of essays.

Much focus on 16th- and 19th-century English poetry & philosophy. Held together throughout by the notion of writing as an engagement which is ineluctably rendered up to moral judgement. Poetry's grounding - its entanglement - in both words and experience - its human particularity - is its weakness & its strength. It is implicated in, as it informs, the moral reality of persons, times & nations.

Hill's manner is extremely ruminative, somewhat oblique. He'll take up a single moral paradox or literary-historical impasse, and slowly ravel into his progress these very acute & nuanced evaluations of the chorus of poets & thinkers who have weighed in on that particular issue over the span of a century or so.

It's as if there's an unspoken assertion serving as the pillar for the whole baroque architecture : the sense of poetry as a culture's necessary redemptive presence (because of that very rooted & particular moral implication in its speech & history). Not exactly in Stevens' sense ("poetry is the sanction of life"). Hill points out that Stevens was following in Arnold's footsteps, seeking to offer poetry as a substitute for religion. For Hill, it seems, the ultimate judgement & sanction lie elsewhere, outside literature - but literature, when it approaches the beautiful & the true, bears witness to that judgement - or bears the marks of it.

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