Having fine ol' time reading & trying to follow & make sense of Geoffrey Hill's magisterial criticism (Collected Essays); his arguments go along like by-ways in a morris dance, or some kind of a-symmetrical old cathedral building... can't even try to summarize or paraphrase at this point. Last essay in the book speaks of the "eros" of poetry - but more as a kind of pain of desire, which fulfills itself in "alienated majesty" (tag from Emerson) - alienated from its own historical ground... yet speaking to it. He's against the clever & influential rounding-up of poetry in service of Important Social Crusades (mentioning in this regard, Eliot's culture-criticism, Raymond Williams)... but he also leans against poetry as complacent frippery (late Auden)... calls upon Charles Williams, Gillian Rose, Austin Farrer, other British thinkers & poets, toward an understanding of poetry on its own proper ground, so to speak (actually I'm not speaking so precisely here at all). Duns Scotus, especially GM Hopkins : Aristotle's idea that our generalizations can never be equated with "individual" particulars (Hopkins & "inscape", Scotus' haeccitas) : & this has something to do with poetry's own individuation & integrity... but there is always this moral & historical contextualization (that is, Original Sin : the inevitable evil, the central standing-in-need of grace & redemption) which shades all writings & poetry - the ground-bass of suffering, guilt, mortality which shatters art's (de-humanized) "autonomy"... close here to Celan.
But I started puzzling over what he meant exactly by "eros" (& its mockeries - mentions something about magazine verse & "awkward mating dances")... thought about the fact that most of my own poetry over the last few centuries seems to revolve around or be addressed to someone... (Mandelstam : "the soul is feminine, & loves trifles") -
& Hill mentioned Joyce, which triggered thoughts about the impact of reading Ulysses (& some of the criticism around it) - this sense of creative joy in the image of a particular place, soaked in the moist & alba-atmosphere of some kind of feminine awareness, another mind, another sensibility... somewhat in Pound too, & the "troubadour spirit" leading Dante (in his view, anyway)... Mandelstam : poetry is the "call of the fife"... (Montale, also, a big presence in Hill's poetry...)
not sure exactly what I'm getting at, except maybe the idea of art-making & poetry-making as a form of erotic activity transposed to spirit & sensibility... so busy with its own processes & originality (haeccitas - Hopkins' idea) that it can never be enlisted or reduced to anything... only allowed to flourish, to be what it is....